Smile

The past few days I have been visiting Thari Mirwah and Khaipur. Getting into upper Sindh where the floods have caused major havoc and displaced millions of people in this region alone.

Things seem to look very normal and life goes on as before. The signs and damage of the water are not always visible at first sight.  But once you look closer you’ll see scattered tents by the side of the road, damaged fields where the planted crop is completely destroyed. It gives me a complete uneasy feeling… How do you even start to photograph the utter magnitude of this disaster when it’s not as visible or photographable as lets say the earthquake in Haiti.

We visited the tent camp in Khaipur that is run by the doctors of the the Pakistani Medical Association and the Society of Obstetricians and gynaecologists of Pakistan. Even though through Western eyes the living conditions still looks grim and horrible, this camp runs smoothly.

Very simple things like water pomps, water purifiers, covers for the floor so people don’t have to sit on the sandy floor in their tents. A doctor has been in the camp for over a month and has become a familiar face and trusted ear for the families living there. Besides a school, they also organize games like volleybal and cricket and teach the women how to embroider or use a sewing machine.

Photographing the daily life in the camp is proving to be quite difficult, with people seeing me as a form of entertainment for the day and breaking their daily routine. The children pose and all want their picture taken. The women usually don’t want to be photographed and hide.

What amazes me the most and at the same time hurts the most is that these people keep on smiling. They are friendly, curious and always inviting wanting to share the little food they have cooked with the foreigner wandering around in the camp.

I came across the tent of Seleman Hasna, a farmer and father of 8 children who lost everything in the flood. Already so poor he couldn’t afford the circumcisions, custom to the Muslim faith, of 3 of his boys since he didn’t have the money to begin with. The family was eating and the children were so warm. One of the girls had the most beautiful smile and giggle I ever heard. With their future so uncertain and having to start all over again with nothing in hand, this family was laughing, playing and the love between them was so big that it touched me beyond words. Coming from such a spoiled society where nothing ever is enough and people always want more, this family teaches a very important lesson.

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