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. Suleman

    The Indians are pretending to be Pakistanis here and writing hateful comments from both sides.

    August 18, 2010 at 1:50 am | Report abuse |
  2. sdnnd

    Donate them in the name of flood, and money will go for bombs.

    August 18, 2010 at 1:51 am | Report abuse |
  3. sdnnd

    Imagine the cry of moms, dads, brother and sisters when a bomb planted by Pakis/paki trainned terrorists go off somewhere in this world. Then the tears of hundreds of people dying or injured or orpahned or widowed never get coverage.

    August 18, 2010 at 1:54 am | Report abuse |
  4. Lana

    Can somebody explain why is our CNN reporter wearing head scarf??? I thought that Pakistanis are very tolerant people...and very nice...Islam is very peasfull religion...

    August 18, 2010 at 2:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Madam M

      It's a sign of respect. You wouldn't go into an Amish community with a tank top and short shorts, would you?

      August 18, 2010 at 2:33 am | Report abuse |
  5. Jar

    I wonder y all of pakistan's Muslim brother countries wont help them out???.. This really shows another example how they even dont care to help out or care about their own people. i guess Allah doesnt teach them to care for one another when in need. That Islam for ya.

    August 18, 2010 at 2:15 am | Report abuse |
    • Stopthehate

      Saudi Arabia: 221 Million Dollars. 100 million from their government, 121 from their CITIZENS.
      now tell me, what are you smoking??

      August 18, 2010 at 2:22 am | Report abuse |
  6. Stopthehate

    When i see hate filled posts on websites like this by my fellow americans, i cry a little inside. Those people out there, the ones that want to kill us? they do so because we are ignorant, and so are they. They are taught by one man to hate us, and in turn makes us hate them. then what happens? we create our own enemies, we are our own undoing, we spawn the very things we hate because we are ignorant.
    all these comments i see about not helping these people, because their country is filled with fanatics trying to kill us, are made by ignorant people. as a member of the islamic faith myself, i know for a fact that it is a miniscule percentage of us that does such things as have become the face of our faith in the ignorant American's eyes.
    This country, America, is HATED because we are ignorant. we are filled with people who will turno ur backs on others just because they are of the same faith as those who hate us. How could you not read this article, not feel the pain of this mother, not wish she did not have to go through this kind of suffering? How could you sit there and say "don't help them"? it is those same, ignorant people that create this kind of endless cycle in our world.
    I, personally, am a pakistani. but i was born here. even so, it breaks my heart to see this kind of suffering. it breaks my heart even more, to see that some of you people are so heartless, so cruel, so IGNORANT as to group these people in with a few extremists.
    Don't feed the sickness. Don't spread the hate. Don't create your own enemy, for that is what we are doing with this kind of hate. You have the power to stop this downward spiral. You have the power to stop this madness.

    August 18, 2010 at 2:18 am | Report abuse |
  7. K

    If it was up to you people and your ignorance, the world would be worse than it is now, not to mention the fact that 90% of you can't spell, have horrible punctuation and don't have your facts straight! We are Americans, it is what we do! We help others out in times of crisis! Yes, granted, most other countries would never help us out in a time of need, but we are The USA! WE are not barbarians, WE are humans! If I had the means and a way, I would gladly adopt that baby and get her out of the hell hole she is being raised in. Stop being so hateful and be thankful that we live in a country that actually protects us!

    August 18, 2010 at 2:31 am | Report abuse |
  8. Moe NY

    I am totally shamed by just about all of the blogs on here...what is wrong with you people? Where has empathy and compassion gone in America? I would take the mother and the baby into my home in a heartbeat. I only wish I knew how to bring this about....I do not have a lot of money, but I know I could help mother and child. You people...fellow Americans?...make me sick....probably just young Americans still feeding off of mother's teat.

    August 18, 2010 at 2:50 am | Report abuse |
  9. Preeti

    For god's sakes, these people are regular human beings and they belong to our planet Earth (and I'm an Indian!) – where is the compassion?????

    August 18, 2010 at 3:08 am | Report abuse |
  10. KJ

    Am I a bad person because I don't care? I don't care because I can't afford to care. I read the story. The headline grabbed me. But I have children of my own to care about. Nobody else will do for them. I can't afford to care about children in Pakistan. Most Americans cannot afford to care about children in Pakistan. So in answer to the person who posted that the American people should donate (match Saudi Arabia's supposed 111 million dollar donation): Why? America's people have serious problems of their own. This is a horrible situation and I am sure that people who could afford it would probably donate something, but those of us who can't just can't.

    August 18, 2010 at 3:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Reply

      It was me who suggested that. I am sorry if I offended you. Those who cannot afford to should not. You are right, Charity starts at home. Take care.

      August 18, 2010 at 9:47 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Amber

    The real question is, would these countries rush to our aid when we need it most?

    @ Fred..Pakistan is already fighting America's war, where hundreds are killed weekly in blasts around the country! If you have something against Muslims, Pakistanis then just think of them as any other race..would you rather help Indians, Latinos...? We're all part of the human race, this is the biggest disaster the world has ever seen where thousand of women and children are dying...and the worse is yet to come! Yes the taliban does exist, yes the government is corrupt but these people haven't done anything to deserve this...

    August 18, 2010 at 4:26 am | Report abuse |
    • JustMe

      Absolutely agree With you amber, just Help the children s, and all the innocent people who did not do any thing to deserve this !!!!!! May God Help them all !!! Amen !!!!

      August 18, 2010 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
  12. Amber

    Great article Sara, saw your report on tv too! However, it really is heartbreaking to see how ignorant most people!

    August 18, 2010 at 4:35 am | Report abuse |
  13. Lee Miles

    There are news reports that says Pakistan Terrorist Groups (LET etc.,) and ISI are offering hapless male flood victims 1000 rupees, food and clothes if they join their training camps to become suicide bombers and terrorists. So, there goes the financial aid given to flood victims.

    August 18, 2010 at 5:37 am | Report abuse |
  14. nax

    The donations are slow because of the "pakistan fatigue" as CNN reported. People are tired of hearing bad things about & from Pakistan. Suave Foreign ministers, Army generals and England and US educated feudal lords have done little for their people and the country's image. This Act of God could happen to any country but the slow "Aid" response must be understood in context of Pakistan's largely dihonest relaionship with the world. The suffering masses have no idea why they have to endure this hardship and so little is coming by way of help. Even the concern is muted. More needs to be done for the people but can we make sure the feudal lords learn something from this disaster. I too like most of the world have my doubts. I believe that all AID must be given in the form of material and very liittle must be given in form of Cash endowments. This way the rest of the world can be assured it gives material assistance and not a cheque for someone else to cash...

    August 18, 2010 at 6:34 am | Report abuse |
  15. Zia

    These are shocking times for Pakistan – may God help these folks who have lost everything

    August 18, 2010 at 7:28 am | Report abuse |
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