03 January 2006

Critical conditions in Pakistan

The situation has turned critical for quake-hit victims in Pakistan in the last week.

United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
that thick snow is falling, roads are cut off, children are dying,
and tents are no longer adequate. It seems like a panic effort to
bring in tin sheets are now futile.

Please keep praying for the people and aid workers, and if you or
anyone you know might be able to volunteer for a short trip please
contact CREST or myself. There are several tonnes of winter clothing
and insulation material here in KL waiting to be dispatched, and CREST
badly needs a medic to go with them to access the villages.

02 January 2006

People I Never Want To Forget

There are people we've met in Pakistan we will never want to forget.

Dr. Reginald

Medical director and builder of the new Pennel Memorial Christian Hospital, is a man of finest character. He is a super-surgeon (does a vaginal hysterectomy and open cholecystectomy in 1/2 hr each) and perfect gentleman. An all-rounder consultant (who single-handedly manages all the patients in his wards and OPD) and a man of discipline. A man of faith and prayer. Having left a lucrative private practive in Hyderabad to restart the defunct 100yr-old mission hospital in Bannu, he exemplifies how healthcare is mission at its best. He shows what healing is in the holistic sense - body, soul and spirit.

Just when we thought the Albert Schweitzers and Mother Teresas have left us forever, we meet in person, hidden in the Afghan frontiers, this living legend carrying on the legacy left behind by Theodore Pennell a 100 years ago. We've been immensely inspired and touched by this man.

The People of Bannu, Battal and Battgram

We have never experienced being denied education or health care for lack of money. Much less food or shelter. Having never tasted real want, I am unable to respond when I see such hardcore poverty. Perhaps I fear because I am myself poor. Without our things and achievements, we are in essence bereft. If I can learn to embrace the 'poverty' within, I may be able to embrace the poverty of others more readily. And then maybe I can learn the joy and simplicity of the have-nots; for whom all of life is a gift to be received and to be given.

01 January 2006

Holding a light

My wife and I were at the vigil on 30th night. It’s a simple and quiet affair – no chanting, shouting, picket boards, etc. Police watching from a distance did not question or harass us.

The late Moorthy incident was simply something I couldn’t brush aside with a ‘not my problem’ attitude. Though a quiet gathering like this may not seem to be achieving much, it certainly makes a statement that as Malaysians we will not let this matter slide like we have many other issues in the past. Honestly, we have ourselves (partly) to blame that our country is where it is and where it is going.

The vigil was off yesterday night to preempt any violence with the onloooking Dataran Merdeka revelers, but they start again tonight at 8pm. It goes on only for half an hour.

Personally, being there, flickering light in hand and standing opposite the ‘Muzium Sejarah Negara’ with Hindhus and Buddhists made me feel like a little part of history. While I mourn deeply the loss and injustice suffered by Kaliammal (the wife) and family, I am thankful for this wake up call for everyone on both sides of the equation.

Let’s continue to pray for the family, for our brave representatives (kudos Rev. Wong KK), and for the government to have the guts to make the necessary changes. If you feel strongly about this issue, and sitting at home makes you feel like just one of the indifferent masses, take a train to Masjid Jamek and make your way to the High Court. You will be given a candle and it will be a half hour of silence and prayer you will enjoy – I assure you your candle won’t be the only thing burning at the end of the night.