15th March 2006
Miller Caldwell has returned from North West Frontier Province of Pakistan where he was the only western camp manger in all of the 161 camps. Mundihar was his tented village and it will be, like all other camps, closed no matter what on 31st March 2006.
The reason why the Pakistani Government is taking this action is as follows:
The milder weather has arrived
The camps were only a temporary, emergency provision
The Army has made most roads passable
Of 2 million affected persons, there were many who did not come to camps and so they have not had the advantages of aid
The Government do not wish the camps to become established with Refugees.
The Army and other NGOís will provide transportation back to their places or origin
There will be two stages of return viz. 10th Ė 20th March when most will return. 21st -31st of March for the remainder.
The Government expect a few families will have to remain in camps (e.g. widows, orphans and those who have not been given clearance yet to return to remoter parts of Kashmir). There will only be two or three camps made available for such cases.
There were highs and lows of course in managing camp life of 2,445 people but Iíll give you examples of each.
1. One man lost three of his four children and his sister in the Earthquake at Balakot on 8th October 2005. His wife and daughter came with him to Mundihar tented village where they were given a tent and they received 3,000 rupees compensation, for his losses (£30). Unfortunately the family then suffered a tent fire. His only daughter died that night and his wife died the following week from her injuries. In addition, his rupees were burnt to ashes.
2. 25yr old Jenny Carnet, a devout Roman Catholic and Cuban medical doctor, fell in love with 17 year old Jehangeer Malik, the younger son of the camp owner. I was called in to counsel each about the age, religion, professional aspirations and family responses to this loving relationship. When all was said and done, I was the guest of honour at their engagement party, appropriately on 14th February 2006.
Between these extremes of sadness and happiness are stories of courage and disappointment, corruption and enterprise. This is the diary of my 60 days in Pakistanís North West Frontier Province. When published with many photos, I hope to raise money for the next phase. That will be the Reconstruction, as broken families return to their origins and start a new life.