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John Kerry Tours Quake Ravaged Region of Pakistan, Distributing School Uniforms for Children

by Pamela Leavey

John Kerry visited the earthquake ravaged region of Pakistan today, meeting with leaders and survivors of the quake, and distributing school uniforms to children. The tent village Kerry visited is funded partly by both the U.S. and Cuba.

Kerry’s visit came in the midst of warnings that “heavy snow would blanket the quake zone over the next four to five days, possibly triggering avalanches along the jagged peaks and promising more misery for the 3.5 million people left homeless by the Oct. 8 quake.”

Kerry toured a camp housing some 18,000 people who survived the 7.6-magnitude quake. Expressing compassion to survivor’s Kerry said, “We’re sorry you have to go through this.”

John Kerry, (surrounded by tight security) center in background in yellow jacket, visited a camp of Oct 8, 2005 earthquake survivors in Shangla district near Mansera, Pakistan, Saturday, Jan 14, 2006. (AP Photo/B.K.Bangash)

John Kerry, walks to meet Pakistani children who survived Oct 8, 2005 earthquake at a camp in Shangla district near Mansera, Pakistan. (AP Photo/B.K.Bangash)

Striding between neat rows of plastic tents erected with the help of the United States, Cuba and China, he also visited a makeshift school for 3,000 children. Many of the youngsters had never been to school before coming to Meira.

“It’s more impressive in many ways that what I expected,” said Kerry, who is on a 12-day trip that includes stops in Afghanistan, Israel, Jordan and Iraq. “It’s also really impressive to see the cooperative effort of countries from around the world.”

Pakistani children who survived Oct 8, 2005 massive earthquake wait to see visiting U.S. Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, unseen, at a camp in Shangla district near Mansera, Pakistan. (AP Photo/B.K.Bangash)

During his stop at the camp, which is alongside a fast-flowing river that cuts a jagged canyon between craggy cliffs, the senator handed out blue school uniforms to boys and girls sitting in the dirt before the tents that serve as classrooms.

The U.S. Agency for International Development paid for the uniforms.

Many camp residents expressed thanks for the aid, but are worried about rebuilding when they return to their wrecked homes in the next few months.

Mohammed Sarfraz, deputy mayor of the camp, told Kerry it was crucial for foreign donors to keep the aid coming after the snows melt and survivors go home.

“We need to live like human beings,” Sarfraz said. “There’s nothing left there but dust and rubble.”

The photos from Kerry’s tour of the refugee camp speak volumes, from the look of hope and curiosity on the children’s face to the look of joy on John Kerry’s face when speaking to a young Pakistani boy…

(AP Photo/B.K.Bangash)
Pakistani children who survived Oct 8, 2005 massive earthquake wait to receive their school uniforms from visiting U.S. Senator John Kerry, unseen, at a camp in Shangla district near Mansera, Pakistan. (AP Photo/B.K.Bangash)

Pakistani children and a young man who survived the Oct. 8, 2005 earthquake look at visiting Senator John F. Kerry, unseen, from their tent provided by USAID in the Shangla district near Mansera, Pakistan. (AP Photo/B.K.Bangash)

Sen. John F. Kerry meets Pakistani boys who survived Oct. 18, 2005 earthquake at a camp in Shangla district near Mansera, Pakistan. (AP Photo/B.K. Bangash)

John Kerry, talks with Pakistani boy who survived Oct 8, 2005 earthquake at a camp in Shangla. (AP Photo/B.K.Bangash)

Hat tip to Whometense on DU for this photo.

In related news the U.N. reports that “Cold and disease are constant threats in Pakistan’s earthquake zone” however, “if donations are sustained, the more than three million survivors should make it through the winter.”

One hundred days into the process all is not well,” chief UN relief coordinator Jan Vandemoortele told a news conference marking 100 days since the quake killed more than 73,000 people.

With so much happening here in America on the political front, we tend to put aside other concerns. I hope that John Kerry’s visit to the quake ravaged region of Pakistan helps to put this dire situation back into the perspective of American politicians and the American people.

Somewhere between “10,000 and 15,000 children had been orphaned in the quake but virtually all of them were being cared for by members of their extended families, reports UNICEF’s director in Pakistan, Omar Abdi.

24 Responses to “John Kerry Tours Quake Ravaged Region of Pakistan, Distributing School Uniforms for Children”

  1. This is fascinating. Interesting battle that always leaves Bush out of the magic circle. Why did the administration choose to drop its beloved bomb just now? And why did Kerry schedule the trip during the Alito hearings?

    Too bad the public can’t catch on. Not yet. I’m afraid they’ll eventually have to.

  2. I’m very proud I voted for Senator Kerry, and even more proud to see he’s touring the earthquake region of Pskistan.

    And it’s good to see one of our Congressional leaders visiting Afghanistan, Israel, Jordan and Iraq, especially now that the region is in total disarray thanks to the Bush Dis-Administration.

    Thanks Senator Kerry! At least more then half of us know someone cares during times of trouble.

  3. As if any of us wouldn’t recognize that tall person in that very familiar jacket.

  4. Teresa

    They’ll catch on eventually. It was rather interesting about that air strike.

  5. Chrystie

    He’s a man with a big heart, which is a lot more than we can say about Bush.

  6. Marjorie G

    I love the coat. Love the man too!

  7. I thought Sen. Kerry scheduled it because he’s on break from the Senate and is the Ranking Memeber of the Senate Foreign Relations Comm sub-comm on East Asian and Pacific Affairs. (Made sense to me for him to go there and see what is going on in India and then go check out what is going on in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq.)

    This is sort of in his job description, right? It’s part of his job as a member of SFRC and as a critic of the President’s plans on the war in general. What else?

  8. Tay Tay

    Makes perfect sense to me. he’s also following up on his last visit to Iraq, which also makes perfect sense to me, and checking in the the troops there from MA.

  9. I’m happy to report that this story is making the rounds on the newswires.

    MSNBC: Senator distributes clothes to kids as winter weather worsens

  10. Wonderful.

    Our president is killing children while Kerry is protecting them. Someone should notice.

  11. Teresa

    Yes, someone should notice.

  12. 6th day into his trip, John Kerry reminds me of what Americans used to be and what American mights used to mean. Courage does not change American way of thinking, fear does. And 9/11 did just that. George W. Bush was the by-product of fear, and who later became warlord of simplicity and muppet of his advisers.

  13. green bean, exactly. bravo and encore.

    The Kerrys (both) = Compassion, it’s that plain and simple. They live what they believe.

  14. Book recommends for insight into Afghanistan and its close neighbor, Pakistan:

    “The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini
    (a brilliant work fiction that describes in detail life in Afghanistan before/during the Russian invasion, told from a male point of view)

    “The Bookseller of Kabul” by Asne Seierstad
    (a fascinating and frankly quite disturbing account of the life of women in Afghanistan after 2001, nonfiction)

  15. As for the coat, woulda recognized it anywhere. 😉

    This comment will probably add another tick on my FBI file, but you know, re: the bombs vs butter that is STILL going on in that ravaged part of the world… I can’t help but think that OBL is happy in his cave, knowing his actions on 9/11 did more than just provoke the lion (Bush), it exposed him to the entire world as the greedy, insane, murderous bully he is.

  16. And I thank all the stars there are in the heavens… that the compassion and caliber of John Kerry is what some people in that devastated part of the world are able to meet… face-to-face… in the name of America, this country I love.

    It’s so unbelievably simple, we either care for other beings lives, or we don’t.

  17. Okay, five posts in a row on a weekend, I’m over and out. 😉

    Miss you all. Getting ready to move and helping Ken with the job search consumes a serious amount of time. What a fascinating experience this is… losing a job because of a speech to students, at a university, that was deemed political, when what he was talking about was marrying compassion and intellect.

    Rural Red has further depths to reach, in my sad (and much wiser than a year ago) opinion.

    @;-) Jasmine green tea all around.

  18. To third, I guess, green bean and KJ, about using fear, I think what I’m upset about most, from all that upsets me about this bunch, is the intent and willingness to make afraid, and poorer living afraid, just for imperial power and profit.

    Used to be a rule and ethic that presidents and administrations would shield us from unnecessary fear. Often not telling us feats of their skill and diplomacy.

    I see these photos and feel sad, wistful and grateful.

  19. What I find even more disturbing is the speed with which the public embraces this fear. They snap their fingers and everyone jumps. We have such a long way to go as a society to develop confidence. But I think this experience will help in that struggle. Men fearing men is not a good idea.

    I have a good feeling right now with Kerry representing our country like this. The truth is evident. The world has always thought we were basically good people and this helps maintain that image. The forces are with us.

  20. Tyrants like Bush remain in power by making use of fear. Note how all those terror alerts stopped once Bush was reelected.

  21. Anyone remember the “Dune” novels and the adage, “Fear is the mind killer”?

    At some point I simply have to write something about the effects and sad success of the Bush Mis-Administration’s use of fear in Rural Red. There is little to no diversity in race or culture, and diversity of thinking (or perspective) is simply not tolerated. While there is all the outward trappings of civilization, tribal ties and thinking rule the day.

    I can pretty much guarentee that I won’t hear a peep about the looming situation in Pakistan (ie, freezing and starvation after the earthquake’s displacement), or America’s recent bombing there, from anyone in the weeks to come, nor will either local paper mention the events. Blinders are on tight.

    And those of us liberals here are left shaking our heads… knowing the great personal cost of speaking out.

    Where is the midwest I used to love?

  22. And, from a purely personal pov, both Ken and I are more determined than ever to hold fast to our ideals, where ever we land next. Selling out to this tribal group think is NOT an option. Or, in simplier terms, don’t piss off an Aries and a Scorpio. @;-)

    God bless John Kerry and his work in Pakistan AND America.

  23. I’m with you two, kj! And I won’t piss either of you off. You’re a great team. And I’m with you on that blessing.

  24. LOL Teresa! By the by, did you catch any of Al Gore’s speech (just now finished)? Saw about 15 minutes of old Al at his firey, preacher best. (He’s found his inner Clinton.) All I can say is, Go, Al, Go.

    D*mn, I only wish there were children and grandchildren I could tell this story to. @;-)