Showing posts from December, 2012

Puzzle Project VII: Fast and Furious

December 12
Jibran would always finish the math assignments really fast, toss it our way and then proceed to dance around the room, poking and prodding the other children who were still trying to finish their work. He was five years old when I first started volunteering at the SOS Village, and over the next couple of years I learned that he was the sort of little boy I needed to give two math worksheets while most other kids got one, he was the one I had to get on my side to help hand out sweets so that he wouldn’t wreak havoc running around, grabbing as much candy as would fit in his tiny palms.
I started volunteering at the SOS Village in Lahore in my freshman year, which also happened to be the year the terrible earthquake struck across Pakistan, devastating individual lives and entire communities. A few families sought help with the SOS Village – children who had lost either both or one parent were sent through a series of SOS locations, till finally they came to rest in Lahore. No…

Puzzle Project VI: A Pick-Up

December 2
When I saw Mai Sakina’s face peering down at me from behind green bushes, I thought she was an angel. A wrinkly, kind-faced angel with few teeth but a lot of white wispy hair, streaked with the orange of henna. “Where did you come from?” she was surprised and amused to see me standing there on a wide edge of the mountain, sharing the space with a couple of sturdy goats. “I’m doing a survey,” I explained lamely. “And I kind of got lost. I’m not sure how to get up to where you are!”
I was in a beautiful, isolated village on the side of a mountain in Balakot, in northern Pakistan. We were conducting surveys to assess earthquake relief efforts, around three years after the devastation that occurred in 2005. Houses – or huts or shelters – sprouted out of the ground like they were a natural part of the environment, there were around 5 to 10 homes in one cluster and these clusters went all over and around the mountain. My trekking partner had conveniently parted ways when he came a…