It was a sunny morning on August 6th, 2010. I was going about my routine of having tea after breakfast and then continuing my studies in my study room. I was preparing for exams to have my post-graduation abroad. For a young Pakistani doctor, it is a dream to study abroad, especially in America.
A little while later, I received a phone call from my mother. She told me that they were leaving home and going to Rawalpindi to stay with my brother because the flood waters were about to hit Muzaffargarh, my hometown.
I was distressed to hear this shocking news. It was a moment of great grief for me. I spent much of that day calling my relatives and friends to ask about their condition, but with little luck as all the telephone networks were busy.
But it was also the day when I decided to help my own people – the flood victims.
I rushed towards Multan, but the army would not let anyone cross Chenab River Bridge unless you were part of a rescue team, as the whole city had been evacuated.
When I visited my village a couple days later, I found that it was completely destroyed by floods. There were no houses, no roads, no crops, no trees. It looked as if no one had ever lived here at all.
I joined a local welfare society, but after some time I wanted to become a part of something that was prepared to help over the long-term. I learned of International Medical Corps from a friend, where I offered my services as a medical doctor.
At International Medical Corps’ basic health unit in Gagri, I met many people who were devastated by the floods, but Khalid, 4, made my eyes fill with tears. He was just a skeleton. This young boy was severely malnourished due to chronic diarrhea from not having safe food or drinking water. I made a quick diagnosis and asked our health educator to educate the parents on Khalid’s ailments and the importance of clean drinking water. We then gave them food supplements, oral rehydration salts (which restore electrolyte and hydration levels), and medicines to set Khalid on the road to recovery.
One of the biggest problems that doctors face is a lack of patient follow-up, which can make life-changing, and in some cases lifesaving, treatment stop in its tracks. Through my work with International Medical Corps, I have learned how to keep a strict follow-up regimen for my patients and better ensure their welfare.
For me, finding International Medical Corps also has given me an opportunity to find deep fulfillment in helping my people rebuild after disaster.