Amid extreme flooding in Pakistan, Catholic volunteers step up

Amid extreme flooding in Pakistan, Catholic volunteers step up

Residents wade through flood waters in Karachi, Pakistan July 31, 2019. Credit: Asis Hassan / AFP / Getty Images.
Residents wade through flood waters in Karachi, Pakistan July 31, 2019. Credit: Asis Hassan / AFP / Getty Images.

.- A 52-year-old Caritas volunteer helped rescue more than two dozen families from a recent flood in Karachi, Pakistan.

Francis Javed, a father of six who works as a cobbler, told ucanews.com that he received a phone call from Caritas Pakistan Karachi at 11 a.m. on July 30. They warned him about an overflowing dam not far away.

“I shifted my family to a relative’s house, alerted the community members and made announcements in the local mosque requesting people to evacuate or climb on to their rooftops,” he said.

Javed’s announcement helped people prepare for the flood waters, which reached his district about three hours later. When the army arrived, Javed helped them rescue people trapped in their homes over the next five hours.

“We had four boats, but each could only transport up to 12 people. The strong water currents made it difficult to evacuate them,” he told ucanews.com. “We used bamboo sticks for support and scanned the surroundings for obstacles in the flooded areas.”

Javed has volunteered with Caritas Pakistan for more than a decade, when he received aid from the church after his home was destroyed in a 2008 flood. He heads a local Disaster Management Committee to prepare for potential disasters. The group prepares foods, secures documents, and discusses escape routes.

Caritas trains volunteers to assess and respond to flood threats, as well as other natural disasters.

Much of Pakistan has been affected by recent flooding, caused by heavy rainfalls in recent weeks. Government officials have confirmed 83 people dead from flooding in the last month, as well as more than 70 people injured and over 200 houses damaged, ucanews.com reported.

In other Pakistani dioceses, Caritas has helped distribute food aid, medical kits, and other emergency supplies to those affected by flooding.

Amjad Gulzar, executive director of Caritas Pakistan, voiced gratitude for the work of volunteers, while warning that the danger has not yet passed.

“The situation is getting worse — more rain is predicted for the coming weeks,” Gulzar said, according to ucanews.com. We are planning a quick response.”

Tags: Caritas, Catholic News, Natural disasters, Pakistan, Flooding