Victims Turn Saviours

Despite having their houses submerged in flood waters a group of Kashmiri interns from Al-Ameen Medical College, Bijapur are reaching out to the affected families. Shams Irfan reports

Kashmiri students from Al-Ameen Medical College Bijapur attending patients at a camp in Pampore

On a dusty Sunday morning, after 15 days since the Kashmir’s worst flood devastated everything that came in its way, a small team of Kashmiri students pursing medicine at Al-Ameen Medical College, Bejapur in Karnataka reached Pampore town.

There were fifteen doctors, mostly girls, who after watching the scale of destruction and devastation in Kashmir on television sets decided to do something for the people. “We started collecting money locally (Bejapur) for the flood victims. Our college was kind enough to contribute as well,” says Dr Sabreena, who hails from Rajbagh, one of the worst hit areas in Srinagar. “Sitting far away from home it was desperate times for all of us as we had no news about our families,” says Dr Sabreena, a PG student in gynaecology from Al-Ameen Medical College. “It was after 7 days that I finally got in touch with my family. Nobody from the authorities came to their rescue. I am really thankful to the boys from downtown who saved my family after three days,” says Dr Sabreena. “You know, one of the boys carried my mother on his shoulder through neck deep water. I will be always indebted to that unknown soul. They are the real heroes,” says Dr Sabreena emotionally.

Dr sabreena
Dr Sabreena Majeed

After collecting money in Bejapur and days of planning, Dr Sabreena Majeed along with Dr Nighat, Dr Mariya Shafeequi, Dr Misbah, Dr Nomain, Dr Baba, Dr Rosemina Patel, managed to purchase medicine worth 2.5 lakh rupees. “We talked to Go Air people and they were kind enough to carry the relief material free of cost,” says Dr Sabreena.

On 17th of September, 2014 Dr Sabreena and her team reached Srinagar and started the work immediately. “Wehave already camped at HMT, Sonwar, and Rajbagh during our three days of stay here,” informs Dr Sabreena.

As the word spread that a team of doctors have set up a camp in Skylight Higher Secondary School Pampore, people started to pour in. It was the first such medical camp set-up in Pampore after the September 7th floods.

They sat in one of the rooms that served as Principles office before the floods. The room still bore watermarks on its ceiling and fan, reminding visitors of the devastation that they have witnessed.

One of the doctors, twenty-three-year-old Rosemina Patel from Bharuch, Gujarat who is an intern at Al-Ameen College, was part of the group. After learning about the tragedy she called her parents in Gujarat and sought permission to visit Kashmir. “I have planned to visit Kashmir on many occasions but somehow the plan got cancelled at the last moment every time. I didn’t know that on my first visit to Kashmir I will be welcomed by death and destruction instead of famed beauty and fresh springs,” said Rosemina sadly while attending patients at the camp. “We have been here since last four days and what we have witnessed is far more devastating then what is being reported by the media.”

Most of the people Rosemina met during her four days camping at different places across Kashmir were saved by the local volunteers. “I came across so many stories where local boys have saved people by putting their own lives in danger. You [Kashmiris] have a strong sense of community and brotherhood that I guess minimised the loss of life,” says Rosemina.

Dr Rosemina Patel
Dr Rosemina Patel

“Pampore town and its adjoining areas are among the worst affect areas and yet, no official camp has been set up so far. We are really thankful to these students who at least visited us,” says Abdul Rashid, a local resident who suffered chest congestion after water receded.

“Our aim is to reach as many people as possible in areas still untouched by the relief agencies working in Srinagar. We do a sort of survey before visiting a place to get an idea of the damage and needs related to health care,” says Sabreena.

Locals feel that Pampore being centrally located somehow got skipped as both aid agencies and medical teams are working either in Srinagar or in Islamabad. “Through our local source we came to know that nobody has visited Pampore so far. We will be camping here for the day before we go further south in areas untouched by the other relief agencies,” says Sabreena.

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