08 October, 2011

Memory Lingers On: Remembering Victims of 2005 earthquake

Published in Pakistan Observer (8 Oct. 2011)
Sana Jamal


Islamabad - Six years later, since the massive earthquake struck northern Pakistan in October 2005, the heart-rending reminiscences continue to live on in our memories. The day is a memento to remember those who lost their lives and loved ones, and also to pay gratitude to those individuals, organizations and governments who offered assistance for relief and reconstruction work in the affected areas.

Today, special ceremonies and prayers will be held all over the country, particularly in Balakot, Muzaffarabad and Bagh to pay homage to thousands who were injured and displaced due to the calamity. Though the suffering in the aftermath of the earthquake was of unimaginable proportions, but the calamity also brought out a positive aspect of the nation, proving that Pakistanis are rightly considered one of the most charitable nations in the world.

To commemorate 6th Anniversary of the 2005 Earthquake, a photo exhibition has been arranged in Islamabad commemorating the victims of the devastating earthquake and highlighting the relief and reconstruction efforts.

The exhibition, jointly organized by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and Pakistan’s Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA) at the Pakistan National Council of the Arts, is an endeavor to remember the 2005 Earthquake and highlight the relief, reconstruction efforts by Pakistan and United States. It is also a reminder for the authorities to focus on preparing for future possible disasters.

The exhibition includes photographs and children’s drawings both of the tragedy and subsequent reconstruction work in the affected areas. While reminding the people of the catastrophe, the photographs send one clear message to the nation: as the memories of the tragedy linger, we all should look forward to work collectively in order to rebuild with dignity and optimism.

The photo exhibition, ‘Rebuilding Together: With Dignity and hope’ was inaugurated by U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission Ambassador Richard Hoagland and Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani. “Six years later, that day still lives on in our memories, and in the images we are surrounded by at this exhibition,” said Hoagland. “I’m proud that the United States of America has worked with the Government of Pakistan and so many other international partners in responding to this humanitarian crisis” he added.

Since the massive earthquake struck Pakistan in 2005, the U.S. government has been at the forefront of relief and reconstruction and along with other donors, the U.S. has provided medical relief and social support to 2.6 million survivors and helped them return to their communities. U.S. assistance included $200 million in education and health care programs and programs to restore livelihoods shattered by the earthquake. The focus of this assistance has been USAID’s Pakistan Earthquake Reconstruction and Recovery Program, which has rebuilt 40 schools and 15 health facilities in Bagh District of Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Mansehra District of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province.