August 17th, 2010
06:53 PM ET

Pakistani mom: Take my baby; she'll have a better life

CNN reporter Sara Sidner sits in a car surrounded by children as she and a crew prepare to leave the flooded Sindh Province in Pakistan.

Sindh Province, Pakistan - The first things you notice are the flies. They form what looks like a buzzing black crust on children's lips, eyes and foreheads. The children are either too tired to keep brushing them away or too used to them to bother.

"We have terrible problem with flies," 50-year-old Khuda Jatoi says in Sindhi, the local language here. Everyone here is suffering from something. Still, the moment they see us, everyone scrambles to find a suitable place for us. Someone is trying to find a chair for us to sit down. Father Khuda Joti is insisting on giving us tea or sending someone to buy a cold drink. We are guests in his makeshift shelter, and he wants to give us the best of what he has. We cannot bring ourselves to take anything from him. He and his family have lost nearly everything they own.

They are victims of the worst floods Pakistan has ever seen, and yet they are trying to make us comfortable. That keeps happening everywhere we go. The day before, in a school-turned-clinic, a few ladies who had survived the floods handed me a "hair catcher" because they could see that I was sweating profusely, and they wanted to make me more comfortable. At the same time, the men kept fanning us with brightly colored hand fans. It makes me feel both ashamed about how much I have and don't appreciate, and inspired by the kindness that is clearly being extended with no expectation of anything in return.

When we ask about their troubles, the entire clan begins to talk at once. Suddenly we are surrounded by children, women, fathers, uncles, aunts, cousins and grandfathers - all members of the large extended family. They have taken refuge in a small school that the family broke into and turned into an unofficial shelter. They have nowhere else to go.

"We were drowning in the water," one family member says. We couldn't hear much else as the sound of all those voices began to weave together in a suffocating quilt made of despair.

We tried to quiet everyone so that we could have a conversation. They told us their sorrows and spewed anger at authorities for giving too little too late.

Then, something happened that makes me cringe. One of the women in the crowd asked that I take the tiny baby girl I was cooing at. She said the baby would have a better life with me. I wasn't sure I heard her correctly until the actual mother of the baby girl said it. I stood there silent, my brain churning so furiously it was as if it was looking for the right answer to a test from the Almighty. How am I supposed to answer that question? What is the right answer? Is there a right answer?

There have been plenty of days in my line of work where I imagined gathering up all the suffering children and taking them with me - at least I would know that they would have food to eat and books to read. But I never really considered actually taking a baby from the arms of its mother, even if asked. In this case, the family has been so traumatized, I told myself it was just their fear and anxiety talking.

I left with only my notepad and camera in my hand and another of life's difficult questions swirling in my head.

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Filed under: Pakistan
soundoff (288 Responses)
  1. gods2fight

    The rich Muslims nations have turned a blind eye to the poor Muslim nation – so much for Allah's dudes. There is only one common theme among the religious nut cases – violence, greed and hatred towards Humanity and the planet.
    While I sympathize with the personal suffering of the children, these very people who recieve the aid support Taliban and various forms of human abuse. Why should non Muslim nations contribute to these stone aged freaks?

    August 17, 2010 at 9:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • oneStarman - Walla Walla, WA

      "There is only one common theme among the religious nut cases – violence, greed and hatred towards Humanity and the planet." – so...What flavor of Nut Case are you?

      August 17, 2010 at 9:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michael

      Because if you don't they will cut off your nose and your ears.

      August 17, 2010 at 10:12 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Terri

    Some of the comments on this article make my heart sink. "Why don't some of the muslim nations help Pakistan"? Seriously? Is that what this is about? Such a lack of compassion.

    August 17, 2010 at 9:19 pm | Report abuse |
  3. someoneElse

    They do have some things we don't. A real community comes to mind. We only look at the material things they don't have because that is what TV tells us life is. They may have had a flood, but I doubt there was any looting and they will come together and become stronger.

    August 17, 2010 at 9:22 pm | Report abuse |
  4. rooroo34

    How 'bout don't live in a flood zone?/

    August 17, 2010 at 9:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • oneStarman - Walla Walla, WA

      It might be hard RooRoo to find a place that is NOT a FLOOD ZONE if a large portion of your country is under water.

      August 17, 2010 at 9:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bekah

      Live where, then, since a good chunk of the world is in a flood zone? If it isn't in a flood zone, it's probably in a hurricane, twister, or earthquake zone. Nowhere on this planet is safe.

      August 17, 2010 at 9:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michael

      Because that's where the good food growing soil is.

      August 17, 2010 at 9:56 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Francesca

    Sara,
    I would like to help; what can I do? Does CNN have a charity link that is helping the flood victims? If so, please direct me towards it.

    August 17, 2010 at 9:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • DonatePlease

      go to america.redcross.org and donate for pakistan floods.

      August 17, 2010 at 9:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • oneStarman - Walla Walla, WA

      UMCOR – The united Methodist Committee on Relief is on the front line for any disaster – including this one. Like in Haiti for the Earthquake, it was there before the Red Cross and has a better record getting aid where it is needed most.

      August 17, 2010 at 9:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • MK

      As a Pakistani, I'm all too aware of the criticism of where donor aid is going to go. However, having said that there are some extremely reliable organisations out there that are doing on the ground relief work and making a difference to the flood victims. If you're still up for donating, pls consider Save the Children – their website has all information and evidence of how they've already made a difference.

      http://www.savethechildren.org

      Thank you!

      August 17, 2010 at 9:33 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Teri Reinersman

    I rich biyatch!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    August 17, 2010 at 9:28 pm | Report abuse |
  7. DonatePlease

    I am from India and seen so many terrorist attacks on my country from Pakistan. But still after looking all the images and the above news I donated with no further thinking. For me no parent should go through such painful process of loosing ones kid before their eyes. How all the chilren survive soon. If u can please donate.

    August 17, 2010 at 9:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • BornFree

      You are such a looser. Pakistan is a country where out of every 10 child, 4 will be a future jehadi....You need some help my friend. I doubt your claim to be an Indian.....

      August 17, 2010 at 9:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Reply

      keep your donation to yourself. India is no saint. India has perpetrated alot of terrorism in Pakistan, including supporting the Taliban that fight our Army.

      August 17, 2010 at 9:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • tjm

      "Reply" how is your Medrassah education going on? Don't surf net. That's evil of modern times. just keep crammin what you have been given. Don't worry about BornFree.. he is just one crazy indian who watched some movies and thinks people change with love and affection..

      August 17, 2010 at 10:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • DonatePlease

      "Reply". This goes on to show u that people like u r enemies of pakistan. When children are such grave danger u seems to live with ur false pride and wish to risk them instead appreciating others help. U and ur govermnment are alike.

      August 17, 2010 at 11:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Reply

      Well, we will accept help but not with humiliation. It is better to die with self respect than to live with none. And let me correct you, I have been constantly thanking others for their donations except for you, because you chose to not donate sleflesly but include your F'in Indian agenda. We are not enemies of Pakistan but you may wanna ask are we a friend of Bloody India?

      August 18, 2010 at 9:28 pm | Report abuse |
  8. BornFree

    I dont understand why America and other non-muslim countries are giving so much attention to this country whose government breeds Jehadis. I just pray god, that America does not give any asylum or adopts any children from pakistan. If that happens God help AMERICA.....

    August 17, 2010 at 9:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • oneStarman - Walla Walla, WA

      I am so very sorry for you. Your HATE has condemned you to HELL – the place where your soul is speaking from now.

      August 17, 2010 at 9:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • kid

      Children are not born jihadis. They are a most often a product of their environment. I think it is safe to assume that a Pakistani child that was raised by a good family in the US would have a very different perspective that one who was raised in impoverished Pakistan.

      August 17, 2010 at 9:54 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Rinsewind

    These people are human beings in the midst of a desperate crisis caused by a natural disaster. What the he** difference does it make what religion they are or where they live? If that's the way you measure whether or not people deserve help, then your heart and soul are dead.

    August 17, 2010 at 9:32 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Nuclear Power

    Pakistan is a great nation... a nuclear power last time I checked. Guess the Pakistanis thought investmenting in nuclear warheads was a better choice than civilian infrastructure and disaster prepardness.

    I didn't want to use the term "moronic" or "stupid" but makes you wonder.

    August 17, 2010 at 9:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • oneStarman - Walla Walla, WA

      WHATEVER INVESTMENTATION – the Pakistanis may have made over the years in the affected areas has been washed away by a FLOOD of Biblical Dimension. This disaster like the Floods, Oil Blowouts. Hurricanes, Famine and Droughts is the direct result of our GREED and STUPIDITY in caring for GOD'S World.

      August 17, 2010 at 9:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sam

      Didn't India start nuclear show off first.... lil knowledge is a dangerous thing my friend

      August 18, 2010 at 1:58 am | Report abuse |
  11. Shelley

    How selfish can you be? Its not about what we (Americans) should be getting from other countries. Its about helping a fellow human being. We are the richest country in the world. We should be bending over backwards to help these people. I could never imagine living in a country that is so poverty stricken and during a crisis I felt I had to give my baby away. It breaks my heart. As for the anti-Muslim comments, how are we to ever get past our differences if we keep berating one another?

    August 17, 2010 at 9:34 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Reply

    I have read so many readers asking the same question. How much did Saudi Arabia contribute. I did not know but researched this right here on the internet. The Saudi government donated 100 million dollars and the citizens of Saudi Arabia have raised 111 million dollars through a telethon (television fund raising) today. The United States has pledged 76 million dollars. The Paksiatni nation is greatful to both. What needs to happen is that the people of the US need to contribute and match the Saudi people's contribution. Do not forget that the people and armed forces of Pakistan have had the MOST casualties in the war on terror than ANY other ally of the United States. STOP counting, start giving.

    August 17, 2010 at 9:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • oneStarman - Walla Walla, WA

      MATTHEW 25:40

      August 17, 2010 at 9:42 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Megan

    There are extremists in every religion. I certainly hope that the ones on this blog who are making arugments such as let's not help the terrorists aren't getting their news from mainstream Western Media, but are actually taking the time to become informed of the population at large. People can't be completely sold by what they seem on the T.V./internet, Can they? Then again, I believe that all Ex-American Military are going to bomb all federal buildings in America, all Catholic Priests touch little boys, all Rabbis sell black market organs, all Dutch men are like Joran Van Der Sloot, and all former medical students eventually kill themselves after killing an erotic masseuse. So, I definitely see where you all are coming from. Freaks.

    August 17, 2010 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Samuel Berhanu

    Thank you for bringing the story to our attention, it is very sad. Is there a fundraising going on, how can we participate?

    August 17, 2010 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ameen

      Samuel! Thank you so much for your consideration. You can donate through this reputable organization:
      http://www.edhifoundation.com/
      USA Edhi international Foundation.
      42-07 National street
      Corona, New York, 11368 USA
      Tel: (718) 639-5120
      Fax: (718) 335-1978
      Toll Free# 1-888-899-EDHI (3344)

      August 17, 2010 at 10:14 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Megan

    Pardon my typos I was excited

    August 17, 2010 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse |
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