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The Pakistan Earthquake - Letter from Br. Wally Smith


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20/10/2005: Pakistan


I have put together some lines more or less as you suggested.
There has, I am sure (and I know from what I am hearing from Australia) been such wide TV coverage that the facts are well known and all realize the extent of the tragedy. It really is a tragedy of huge proportions. By the way, I am sorry I did not get on to you earlier with something on the Monks.

TheAs I write this, it is ten days since the northern regions of Pakistan were devastated by the earthquake. Each day brings more news of destroyed villages, wrecked infrastructure and a rising death toll. It is difficult for us all to take in the extent of the tragedy, the worst to strike Pakistan. The loss of children alone, a whole generation in some locations, has deepened the sufferings of the people who have lost so much of their material possessions.

The effects have been mainly felt in the hill country, the foot hills of the great mountain ranges. The centre of the quake was in that part of Kashmir controlled by Pakistan, but the destruction extends into Indian territory and Afghanistan. The Marist communities are in the North West Frontier Province (Peshawar - three Brothers) and the Punjab Province - Sargodha (two Brothers) and Faisalabad (two Brothers). Apart from Islamabad where several buildings collapsed and there was loss of life, very little damage and no loss of life occurred throughout those the parts of these Provinces that are on the plains. So the Brothers, our schools and other Institutions, the families of the Brothers and the young men in Formation experienced no ill-effects from the quake.

But we can be sure that there have been some good effects throughout the country. The way the world community has come with their Rescue Teams, with their Medical Teams, food-aid, tents, heavy equipment, helicopters etc, has brought the Pakistan community much closer to so many other nations. The co-operation between India and Pakistan in rescue and rehabilitation work could surely deepen the spirit of reconciliation which has been building up for some time. There is the hope that the working together of so many elements within the country to provide aid will foster a greater spirit of harmony. The Catholic Bishops Conference urged every Catholic to give a days wages to the relief efforts. All the Christian Churches are combining to support their people in the devastated areas.

The Brothers are not directly involved in the setting up relief services but are directing contributions of various kinds through regular Church and State agencies.
Let us all keep in our prayer the people who are facing a most difficult winter and a bleak future.

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