DAY ONE:   Yesterday morning I took off on a bus with a team of twenty male doctors from Civil Hospital and Dow University’s Post Graduate Committee as part of the medical relief camp effort in Thatta. These doctors with different medical specialities are off to visit different camps to do their part in the relief effort for the flood-affected population.   Currently, Sindh has evacuated more than half a million people into different areas of the province.   The bus left from Civil Hospital at around 9 am and arrived at around 11 am in Thatta, where we headed straight to the district office to be split into different groups and be sent out to various areas of the district. I joined four surgeons at Civil Hospital who were assigned to Chuhar Jamali, a township almost 70 km outside of Thatta at the local Rural Health Center.   As we traveled into Thatta, there were no signs of a major flood – actually there were only a few scattered tents here and there that reminded a visitor that there might have been a flood evacuation.   While waiting for our transportation at the District Office, everyone decided that a visit to Makli Hill, the largest necropolises in the world, to see the tombs of royalty.   Makli Hill was practically walking distance from the District Office, and the doctors enjoyed themselves climbing over walls and walking into tombs to scare the bats and each other. They roamed around like children except that these kids were about to become part of the solution to the natural disaster that had graced the land.   Once we left the District Office and started traveling towards the Arabian Sea – therein lay the wake up call. As our van passed over a bridge – with warning signs in every direction – we were one of the few vehicles traveling in that direction – every person, animal, and vehicle were heading away from that direction.   The doctors joked that if everyone was leaving what was the point of their arrival.   Surrounded by greenery and water – the closer we got to Chuhar Jamali, the water got higher in the river and soon the pictures from the newswire and television that I had become familiar with turned into a reality. From the flood water peaked out rooftops of destroyed homes.   We arrived at the health center which becomes a ghost health center after iftaar. I was given a hospital bed to sleep in and plans for the next day were made with our host, Dr. Sulaiman Shah. The plan is to travel with a medical team in the mobile medical van so its easier to reach the affected population that might be living in the camps.   Dr. Shah mentioned that Chuhar Jamali lay at a critical point in the path of the flood – if the flood water rises again and smoothly spills into the Arabian Sea, then most of the people and their lands in the rest of Sindh would be saved, but if not then there will be more destruction. I hope to get a better detailed understanding of the critical point tomorrow. But more than that, I hope tomorrow we can make start making the difference we arrived here for.   DAY TWO:   It has probably been one of the longest days I have ever had on a reporting assignment.   The day did start according to plan – I was suppose to travel with the medical team to different camps while observing and speaking with the locals that have been affected by the flood in Chuhar Jamali, a township in Thatta.   But as usual, things never go according to plan.   Dr. Monis Ahmed, Dr Muhammad Taqi, and I went to the see the people who had moved from the flooded homes to the bund for medical assistance. The plan was while the doctors saw their patients I would walk around and talk to the locals, who are mostly farmers, to get a perspective what they expect and what has been done for them, so far.   We collected more medicine from the Coast Guard and while waiting, I took the opportunity to ask more about the critical points and what could happen if the flood water breaks the breach.   Turns out that if the flood water does not breach, then it will smoothly spill into the Arabian Sea but if the water does breach then instead of the water heading in one direction with the current, it will spill in each direction and can destroy up to three tehsils within Thatta.   Before we could even see the patients we were to meet with the Advisor to Chief Minister, Mr. Ghulam Qadir Malkani who had moved into a camp site near the bunds in order to constantly monitor the flood and the affected people of the area. I had the chance to ask questions and get a good idea of the efforts the government was partaking in: according to Mr. Malkani the response had been good and they had been prepared, at least compared to other provinces in the country.   They were prepared; the army has continuously been monitoring the flood situation, the coast guard was helpful with rescues and transportation, space had been made for the affected people but what was missing were rations, tents, and medicine which are currently needed the most.   While speaking with Mr. Malkani, the discussion was joined by Major Zafar from the Coast Guard who was passing through with some information. Apparently, the day before the Major stopped a boat with almost 20 people heading back to the flooded area. The people claimed they were being sent back by the landowner to save the land and start rebuilding – he was astonished at the audacity of the landowner. He called the landowner and then spoke with the people about the dangerous waters.   As I was preparing to ask when we would leave for the camps, the Major mentioned a rescue mission. I stopped and smiled. I took a chance and asked if I could join the rescue team, and without hesitation he said ‘absolutely you can.’ So the plan, inevitably, changed…   Dr. Ahmed and Dr. Taqi were a bit worried in the beginning but got over it soon enough. Major Zafar took me to the area where the boats were being lowered and I climbed in with the captain, Major Zafar, two coast guard members, and two other local men who knew the area to save two farmers who did not want to leave their landowner’s property (I will write more on their interesting rescue story).   The rescue trip took an hour and 15 minutes to our destination which was 6-7 kilometers from the main land. After the rescue, our return trip took an almost four and a half hours because of the dangerous water currents. I left at around 3pm and returned to the Rural Health Center at 10pm.   It had been one of the longest days, ever.     DAY (ALMOST) 3:   I was suddenly awakened by Dr. Adeel Faizi at 7am,“The embankment had been broken and the flooding has started. They must evacuate us out of Chuhar Jamali before the roads are closed.”   The breach of the embankment has endangered Sujawal, Daro, and Mir Pur Batori townships.   We gathered our things as quickly as possible and stuffed ourselves in the ambulance.  I noticed many people traveling with their household items, like beds, pots, and pans, etc.   We are now heading to the District Office to determine where the doctors are needed within the district.   THE REST OF DAY 3:   After much deliberation between the District Office and Dow University’s Post-Graduate Committee – it was decided that the doctors would go back to Karachi.   And Dow University in cooperation with Civil Hospital would send about 30 doctors in the morning.   We waited for the bus till 3pm and then headed back to Karachi.

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