The sound of a million voices

Published: September 17, 2010

Throwing money at the problem and hoping it would correct itself is not the answer. PHOTO: REUTERS

This Eidul Fitr, some colleagues and I decided to spend the day at a relief camp in Makli, Thatta. Though it sounds terrible given the sufferings of millions around us, the decision to part with the delicious food, deserts, social gatherings and lastly Eidi was a tough one. Nevertheless, having kept only a few fasts during the month of Ramazan, the opportunity to redeem myself seemed too good to pass by.

Upon entering the camp, the magnitude of the tragedy that had hit our nation began to sink in. The task at hand was evident and after discussing the most efficient method of distributing aid, we unanimously agreed that going from tent to tent would at the very least ensure some sort of fairness.

However, twenty minutes into the distribution I realised that there would be no fair way to do this. Young men and children followed our crew and the truck with relief goods, pleading their cases. We were mere volunteers, most of us doing this for the first time. Every person at the camp seemed as needy as the other; we simply took their word for it and proceeded.

The further we got into the camp the more disillusioned I became with the setup. It was apparent that the relief camp had become a subset of our everyday real life; it was survival of the fittest. The young men had a distinct advantage over the women, the elderly, the sick and the children.

While it is fair to say that devious minds have forever found opportunities to prosper from other people’s tragedies, on the flip side the opportunity to resurrect ourselves has never been better. The sound of a million voices still echo in my head and I wonder if anybody is listening or has a better idea to help the survivors than throwing money at the problem and hoping it would correct itself.


Hassaan Khan

A sub-editor on the national desk of The Express Tribune. He graduated from the University of California Santa Barbara.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Natasha

    Its great to see that the young generation can take time out and go to THATTA and help out. That on its own is a very big deal for the average lazy pakistani. A very touching and insightful summary of your trip. “throwing money at the problem and hoping it would correct itself” – very well said. Thank you for finally writing a real unbiased article. xx Recommend