The week that was, 8/22-28/2010

Posted on | August 29, 2010 | No Comments

Bullets rain on the Swat Valley in a drawing done by one of Feriha Peracha's students school for "Taliban" survivors. August flooding has brought fresh anguish to the already chaotic and deadly region that Peracha remembers as paradisal during her childhood visits. Source: American Public Media's 'The Story.' Click on the drawing to be taken to Dick Gordon's interview with Peracha.

As we remember the tragic delays after Hurricane Katrina hit the Louisiana coast five years ago today, arguably the single most meaningful way that we can mark the anniversary is to help the millions in Pakistan whose livelihoods are being washed away now, who are desperate now.

For a glimpse of the horror being visited on that country by unprecedented monsoonal flooding, and the bewilderment and desperation of the people in the path of the water, there is no better sampling than Dick Gordon’s August 25, 2010 interview with Pakistani psychologist Feriha Peracha on American Public Media’s “The Story.”

For the last five years, Peracha has run a school for teenaged boys wrested from the Taliban. She accepted the assignment because she remembered going to the Swat Valley as a child, when she says it was a welcoming place where fruit farmers would not let her leave without feeding her.

As Swat fell to the group that the world now calls the Taliban, she will not use that word for them; she insists they be called what they are, which is “terrorists.” Taliban means “student of learning,” she tells Gordon. The thugs offering children false futures in paradise for becoming killers are not students, she argues, but terrorists. Perhaps the most unnerving thing for any listener familiar with American inner cities is how perfectly her description of the methods of terrorist induction of poor children of Swat into the “Taliban” applies to, say, the gangs of Los Angeles.

As the August floods hit Swat, she described being called from the school by a major to see “people standing on the edges of the river … staring at the river as if they could stop it.” They couldn’t stop it. Now, working with aid organizations, she is trying to get food to stranded residents.

We all know that more could have and should have been done in the early days of Katrina. How to use that knowledge? For information from the Red Cross on relief for the Swat valley, click here.

Note: the layout of the American Public Media web page places the link to play Peracha’s story at the bottom of the screen below a second item called “Summer on the Farm,” so be sure to scroll down to the bottom of the page where it says Listen Now. Then click. It will look wrong, but it will be right.

For NASA images of the flooding in Pakistan, click here.

For a full round-up of California water news, go to Aquafornia, the newsfeed of the Water Education Foundation, or to UC Berkeley’s On Water.  For San Diego water news, try Groksurf’s San Diego. Or, for all things to do with water, including a pungent post on Katrina, do check in with WaterWired. New to this site’s water blog roll is Reddit Water, a linking service to water stories in the news. Do investigate it.

This post has been updated.


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