Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Fa la la la la?

We'll head out this weekend for the Yule Tree. Stockings are already hung by the non-existent chimney with care in hopes that St. Nicholas soon will be there. And he will be, as I'm almost finished with my Christmas shopping. Clothes for the girl, video games and books for the boy. Annie is just a touch obsessed with slippers, of which she is getting several pairs.

It's darn cold here. High of 12 today, with wind chills below zero. And our home is cold, too. In anticipatory fear of the projected huge gas bills, we're living at 63 during the day and 61 at night. The kitchen, which is underventilated, is often 59. Thank goodness for my space heater, which is conveniently parked adjacent to my computer!

Sounds pretty uncomfortable, doesn't it? Well, it is. But. I don't live in a tent in Pakistan, as do approximately 3 million earthquake survivors. In Muzaffarabad, the average high for December is 61. But the average low is 38. In a tent. With no fancy sleeping bags or foam bedding to keep the frigid hard ground from sucking the heat out of you. That's one of the warmer places being affected, as it is at a lower altitude than many of the smaller villages affected up in the Himylans.

Meteorologists are predicted a rough week ahead, as well as a rough winter, overall. NATO predicts that half of the earthquake survivors may perish this winter, with suggestions of a severe winter with "subzero temperatures and snowfalls of up to five metres." That's 16 feet for US.

This is not Katrina, my friends. Katrina's victims seem to be housed, all across our country. None of them appear to be camping out in tents in the snow. And we're not talking about a few thousand souls hanging out in this weather. We're talking three million people who are homeless right now.

There are many articles out in the past week focusing on the emotional damage to those who have survived Katrina. And I do not doubt for a moment the incredible pain and suffering those who have lost their homes must feel. I'm more concerned, at this point, with those who was struggling to meet their basic physical needs. And I'm puzzled and saddened that we have not, as a people, responded to meet those needs. Are the only people who can commandeer a helicopter and fly in supplies to the remote regions Brangelina?

Pakistan plans to build 400,000 houses to help house these people. In April. In the meantime (pun intended) folks are living in the zoo. Cages are providing better housing than the government and aid companies are able to. I'm not blaming the government, particularly. Can't imagine the massive amounts of people power and organization it would take to recover from this catastrophic event. And the government has provided temporary housing to over 50,000 survivors.

But how many more people will die before needed supplies reach them? Read this article from a Red Cross/Red Crescent worker on her visit to a remote Pakistani village. Then prayer for a few more "days of grace" that allow workers time to deliver the supplies these families need to survive the winter. And, if you are so moved, drop a little fa la la money into the Red Cross.

Until tomorrow,


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