Proud to be part of the team: a reflection from Julia Dill, CWS Pakistan/Afghanistan

I cannot forget the most fearful experience of my life, Oct. 8, 2005. I was living in Abbottabad, Pakistan. I grew up there and an earthquake changed the city I knew well, forever.

  Julia talks with a women who lost relatives.
CWS staffer Julia Dill talks with a women who lost relatives in the 2005 earthquake.
Photo: CWS Pakistan/Afghanistan

I cannot forget the most fearful experience of my life, Oct. 8, 2005. I was living in Abbottabad, Pakistan. I grew up there and an earthquake changed the city I knew well, forever.

For many days we felt aftershocks and all schools were closed. I still remember airplanes going here and there searching for people, ambulance sirens on the main roads.

Many people like me volunteered to help. I worked as an interpreter for Chinese doctors. We went to Balakot and relief camps to provide medical aid to the affected. I translated the local language into English for the doctors. From this emergency, in the midst of a crisis, I found a calling to work in humanitarian aid.

In July 2006, I joined CWS-Pakistan/Afghanistan in a program for relief and recovery of earthquake survivors. I was the part of a recovery assessment and monitoring team. The scene of winter 2006 is yet fresh in my mind, with snow all around the Kaghan Valley, an area hit hard by the earthquake. CWS-P/A vehicles climbed into mountainous areas to provide winterized tents and food packages to the people.   I felt a real contentment as a humanitarian worker when our team reached the most vulnerable people, who lived at high altitudes. The loss after the quake was so much that people had no place to live and nothing to eat. The tears of joy we have seen in the eyes of people recieving food, tents and CWS Blankets were an unforgettable experience. I really felt proud to be part of the team which reached out to people in need, near and far.

Now I see a different face of poverty and hunger as part of CWS-P/A’s Social Development Program. CWS-P/A implemented food security projects in areas that are the most food insecure areas of Pakistan, such as in Sindh Province.  There, people eat chilies as a meal with bread. Meat and dairy products are far off thoughts. They hardly ever buy new clothes, sometimes once in a year.

Two years ago CWS-P/A helped farmers plant wheat and mustard crops, to improve their food security. We have helped them build water ponds, not only for crops but for household use. I have met children who understand that a single gift of a fruit tree helps them to eat fruit.

I feel so proud to be the part of a team which battles against hunger and poverty for the people not only in Pakistan, but around the world. What inspires me most is that CWS works with communities irrespective of class, race or religion. All people in need can benefit from CWS assistance, no matter religion, no matter race. It’s a dedication to the ideals of that equality that moved our teams to endure being stuck in landslides for hours after the 2005 earthquake. Reaching the most vulnerable was motivation for our CWS teams to climb mountains and hike for more than three hours to do needs assessment of quake survivors.  Whenever I think and listen to the testimony of people CWS assists, it restores all my energy and moves me a step further reaching out to people in need.

 

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