Pakistan: Families left homeless find refuge in church in Abbottabad
Abbottabad, Pakistan, 25 October 2005 - Sixteen families have found refuge in a church in the town of Abbottabad, Pakistan. The families come from Muzaffarabad, the city that was at the epicentre of the earthquake that struck Pakistan on 8 October.
The families, part of a small Christian community, were able to seek refuge in the church grounds in Abottabad through the efforts of Father Inayat-Patras (pictured left), who is the parish priest of St Peter Canisius. "This small community is the 'poorest of the poor' ... they are in very low paid jobs, working for the municipal corporation in Muzaffarabad, as cleaners and road sweepers," he said.
"When the earthquake struck, I was very concerned for them and I heard news of their plight through a catechist member of the church."
Father Inayat-Patras asked Caritas Pakistan to visit the families and to listen to their requests. Their most pressing need was for tents so that they could return to Muzaffarabad. They feared that they might lose their jobs if they did not return. However, back in Muzaffarabad, they have nowhere to live as their homes have been destroyed by the earthquake.
Abida, a widow with three children, said: "I am a municipal worker, and I am the only one working. If I do not work, who will take care of my children?"
The families, an estimated 80 individuals including children, are occupying the school classrooms and outbuildings of St Peter Canisius.
Caritas Pakistan has been delivering tents to families who have been left without adequate shelter in an effort to help them cope with the fast approaching bitter winter snows. Members of an assessment team came to visit Father Inayat-Patras to discuss how best to distribute the tents to these families. Father Inayat-Patras says that the Church is working to respond to the needs of the entire affected community, regardless of creed.
In the next weeks, Caritas Pakistan will be receiving over 8,000 tents and 4,000 blankets, along with 10,000 kitchen sets, which consist of cooking pots, pans and utensils.
Caritas Internationalis is a confederation of 162 Catholic relief, development, and social service organisations present in 200 countries and territories.
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