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. Roland

    Certain things are more valuable in Islamic worldview – nukes, weapons, mega-mosques, illusion that Islam is conquering the world. Other things are not so valuable – human beings for example, both Moslem and non-moslem. To rescue Moslems ( either from other moslems or natural disasters) a Moslem has come to rely on the weak, kind hearted West. Because their Moslem brothers are busy doing other things – killing women, blowing up schools, etc.

    August 17, 2010 at 10:19 pm | Report abuse |
  2. The Dirty Paki

    ☾☆پاکستان زنداباد ☾☆ Long Live Pakistan! ☾☆

    August 17, 2010 at 10:20 pm | Report abuse |
  3. The Dirty Paki

    ☾☆پاکستان زنداباد ☾☆ Long Live Pakistan! ☾☆

    August 17, 2010 at 10:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • helix

      What is this crap?

      August 17, 2010 at 11:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Dirty Paki

      Skip the first 40 secs

      August 17, 2010 at 11:35 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Holy ***

    so many ignorant people in the world. More people have been killed in the name of religion than anything else in history. So Pakistan is the enemy now America? Afghanistan and Iraq are bombed enough, need to move on to the next one? Iran have to much military power to attack? I wonder if the Roman people were this ignorant in the years before their empire crumbled.

    August 17, 2010 at 10:22 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Maggie

    God is in control. Have faith.

    August 17, 2010 at 10:22 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Michelle

    I'm sick of hearing people whine about where the money will go and how corrupt the government is and talk about the Taliban. These are innocent people who are dying. Simple, innocent farmers who have lost their means of living. Small villages have been washed away. We Americans need to step up and show the world that we are compassionate, unconditionally. Unfortunately most of us aren't showing that.

    Get this prejudice BS out of your heads and look at the big picture. 2000 people dead, and millions displaced for years to come. And guess what? If people like you and me don't step forward and help, guess who's gonna recruit their innocent illiterate children and give them shelter? Yeah, the Taliban. Step it up America, show the world who we really are. That we aren't ignorant and money hungry. Give generously.

    August 17, 2010 at 10:22 pm | Report abuse |
  7. The Dirty Paki


    August 17, 2010 at 10:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • helix

      Alright, take it easy.

      August 17, 2010 at 11:15 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Nick

    and what is really sad, is that people like Brian are going to do some serious damage in 2012 when they elect some right wing nut who is going to tarnish our country's name even more. I'm sure he's one of the people who still doubts that President Obama wasn't even born in the U.S.

    August 17, 2010 at 10:25 pm | Report abuse |
  9. mikeg

    this can happen to anyone. we all should have compassion.

    August 17, 2010 at 10:29 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Lachman

    Now is the time for the Pakistani government and its military to help its fellow citizens in all ways they can, all the billionaires around the world should also come forward and help the Pakistani people in this time of their crisis.

    August 17, 2010 at 10:36 pm | Report abuse |
  11. The Dirty Paki

    There are Ultra-Orthodox, Conservative, Moderate, Liberal, and nominal Muslims out there, don't think of us as all being the same.

    August 17, 2010 at 10:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ali

      thank you for posting that video

      August 18, 2010 at 7:21 am | Report abuse |
  12. VETAfghanWar

    I just heard the Afghan Gov't has donated tons of medicine, a few million dollars and sent in food...for a poor country to do this is inspiring- Afghanistan is truly the heart of Asia from my experience..., especially when Pakistan constantly sends suicide bomber to kill Afghans and destroy Afghanistan's infrastructure. I hope Pakistan learns a lesson from Afghanistan in terms of tolerance, peace and humanity.

    August 17, 2010 at 10:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Reply

      This is not nice when Pakistan in the first place got into this mess 30 years ago because of helping the Afghans againsta Russian invasion. Pakistan has been a host to Afghan Refugees for the last thirty years. How about Afghanistan helping India send Taliban suicide bombers into Pakistan that have killed nd maimed thousands of Pakistanis. If Pakistan does not allow any trade through its land for Afghanistan, then life could be harder for landlocked Afghanistan. Maybe thats what we should do so you can use Iran , Russia or China for your trade and make the cost of trade higher for you. My be we should kick out the 1 million Afghan Refugees from our country who have been a drain on our society for 30 years and brought in the Klashnikoff culutre to our land. You ungrateful soul.

      August 17, 2010 at 11:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Amy

      Absolutely right. The Afghans have to be appreciated for their tolerance when they have had to put up with Pakistani interference all these years. Pakistan has been creating trouble there for years, was propping up the Taliban (Only country to recognize the taliban govt there). Of course the main aim was to preven India to form a foothold there, anf the afhgani's were the innocent victims. It's nice to see this compassion. I hope the pakistani's learn something from this. But I doubt it.

      August 17, 2010 at 11:53 pm | Report abuse |
  13. AmericanPatriot

    Help the Pakistani’s they will thank Allah for bring in the infidels to help them and they will again plot bombs and kill the innocent men, women and children who helped them in the name of Islam. Example, the time square bomber – studied and lived on American soil, who wanted to kill innocent people in the name of Islam.

    August 17, 2010 at 10:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Raj

      I agree. pakistan has been spreading terrorism for so many years. the floods are just Karma hitting back at them for all the terrorists they have produced. what goes around comes around. pakistan deserves this.

      August 17, 2010 at 10:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • kahwi

      Your ignorance and hatred are an embarrassment to all Americans.

      August 18, 2010 at 12:07 am | Report abuse |
    • AJ

      Sure... hold every living Pakistani accountable, for the wrongs done by a handful of idiots who didn't know any better.

      Clearly, it's only the terrorist Pakistanis (like the time square bomber) who have studied and lived on US soil... don't bother taking into account the other millions of pakistani immigrants living peacefully in the US.

      August 18, 2010 at 1:05 am | Report abuse |
  14. AmericanPatriot

    Helping Pakistan is back stabbing our brave men and women who died in the line of duty. Every dollar donated will be used for IED that will hurt our men and women who are fighting for us.

    August 17, 2010 at 10:44 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Raj

    Pakistan deserves this... it has been spreading terror for so many years... it's just Karma... stuff that they did is coming back to them.

    August 17, 2010 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sad

      You're saying as if America or India has not done anything wrong ever to Pakistan! India has initiated war against us on several occasions,their youth is filled with ignorance and hate, you hear "Taliban" or "Terrorists" and automatically you think of Pakistan! India has also had series of bombings which aren't remotely related to muslim terrorists but done by your some extremists group but yet you just like to rant that we deserve this! America has initiated war in Iraq and Afghanistan..for find weapon of mass destruction! yeah right..did they ever find any? NO, they just killed hundred of thousand people, left them homeless and without families and all they have to say about it that their people are victims in all of this. It's absolutely inhumane to wish any disaster on a country this big! People are dying in Pakistan and all of you are dragging religion in would not want someone saying that for your country would u Raj? if a natural distaster hits your country that it's Karma. It's a test from God and He is great. We will come out of this with or without your help, if you cannot donate/help us or have sympathy for us then they are lot of people out their who do not have mallice in their hearts and will happily help us.

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