Posted by: Titus Presler | February 16, 2011

Flood damage repair continues in Diocese of Peshawar

During a January visit to the Diocese of Peshawar in the Church of Pakistan, I was impressed with how the church is continuing to help people recover and rebuild from the floods that devastated vast swaths of the country from the far north in Peshawar Diocese to the far south of the country in August 2010.

A visit to Charsaddha, a town north of the city of Peshawar, took us into the homes of Christians in a densely populated residential section, where homes have been built up next to each other like a honeycomb, many of them sharing walls and all them small.  Waters from the nearby river had risen high into the narrow lanes, sometimes leaving their mark on walls about six feet above the road surface.

What the floodwater destroyed and what it didn’t was reminiscent of the random touch of a tornado.  One flat might be relatively intact while another next door is a mass of toppled bricks and beams, doubtless reflecting where the power of the flood broke through in a spot that was a little weaker.

About 1,700 Christian families in the diocese sustained damage to their homes, and the church is understandably trying to help them first with its limited resources, some contributed by churches abroad and international aid agencies.  We visited a number of damaged homes, and in all of them reconstruction either is underway or has been completed.  In the home of one pastor, the graduation picture of his seminary class continues to hang high on the living room wall, but the photograph is now simply a mass of black and gray from where the flood reached it.

St. Peter’s Church in Charsaddha is an affecting sight.  A painted bas-relief cross and its name make it visible from the alley that leads to its entrance.  The size of the sanctuary is smaller than a side chapel in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City.  One might expect about 30 people to gather in St. Peter’s, but the regular Sunday attendance exceeds 60, and on major feasts well over a hundred people crowd in and spill out into the alley.  The flood cracked the wall behind the altar, and parishioners worry that the foundation has been affected.

Meanwhile, back at the Diocesan Centre in Peshawar, the hall is full of kits of basic supplies that continue to be distributed to the flood-ravaged throughout the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.  In addition to bedding, cookware and washing supplies, the typical kit also contains a prayer rug, expressing care and solidarity with the many Muslims who have lost their prayer rugs in the flood.

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