A KEIGHLEY man has spoken of the “heart wrenching” scenes which greeted him during an aid mission to earthquake-devastated Nepal.
Dr Aziz Ahmad Hafiz said nothing could prepare anyone for the extent to which people’s lives had been devastated.But he paid tribute to the determination of the population, many of whom had lost everything.
“I was amazed by the resilience of the villagers who would be sat outside their destroyed homes getting on with life as best they could,” said Dr Hafiz, a GP and president of Keighley Ahmadiyya Muslim Association.
“On seeing the destruction in the villages it was quite heart wrenching.”He spent two weeks in the country in his role spearheading Humanity First’s emergency response.He co-ordinated the relief effort with the charity’s partner on the ground, Ahmadiyya Sangh Nepal.During the visit he attended meetings with United Nations officials and Nepalese Government representatives to discuss logistical resources and issues such as shelter and water.Dr Hafiz, who has been a volunteer with Humanity First for 20 years and is its director of disaster relief, was in Nepal when the second quake struck.”We were in the back of a car in Kathmandu when suddenly the vehicle started rocking from side to side quite severely,” he said.”Buildings started cracking behind us and debris fell. Fortunately we escaped unscathed as did the many that ran out into the streets.”The second quake added to the ongoing logistical challenges.”He and his colleagues travelled to six remote villages in the Gorkha district, where destruction was widespread.They worked to ensure families which had lost their homes received special water survival boxes, donated by Rotary.
Each box contains essential items such as water filters, tarpaulins, household utensils, tools and sanitary supplies.Dr Hafiz said: “Despite volunteering as a disaster relief co-ordinator for many years, each disaster is unique and the human tragedy still hits you hard.”When you look another person in the eye who has lost everything it puts many things into perspective.
“It makes us grateful for so much that we have and helps us realise how lucky we are to be saved from such extremes of nature.”Managing a disaster of such magnitude is never an easy task and the work of assisting the people carries on for many months ahead, especially through the monsoon season, ensuring suitable tents reach places where they are most needed.”