We haven’t yet named our project yet although our goals have always been clear: (1) to listen to the villagers’ personal experiences of the two great floods of 2010 and 2012; (2) to demonstrate how Hydr and Resettling the Indus are teaching the villages new ways to rebuild their lost and damaged houses; (3) to show how ancient and new knowledge will lead to a self-sustaining economy; (4) to record the resilience that has fostered growing confidence and hope among the people of these flood-ravaged villages.
We spent three very long days and two very short nights shooting the film for this documentary. Our team consisted of four women and three men plus a driver. We traveled approximately six hundred miles including 50 or so miles on extremely rough village roads, the remainder on the chronically clogged and chaotic Grand Trunk Road. Our return to Lahore took 12 hours partly due the roads being blocked by an anti-police protest which involved a dead body being deliberately left on a charpoy (more about charpoys in an upcoming post) at a major intersection.
My plans to blog from the village were unrealistic: consistent with Pakistan’s endemic energy crisis, we had very few hours of electricity each day while the generator, operational for only an hour at a time, was used to charge the batteries for our equipment. Our living quarters were in the schoolhouse, the four women in one room and the rest of the crew, the drivers and the RTI people in three other rooms. We had one outdoor basin for washing and three lavatories, two of them “desi” or Indian style. We had brought some sandwiches and biscuits with us but our other meals were very graciously supplied by the villagers. I complimented the woman who had made one of our evening meals—ground rice roti and spinach curry. She told us that she had cooked the meal on a wood fire with light provided by her mobile phone.
The electricity problem in this country is of truly cataclysmic proportions: not just an oppressive inconvenience, it robs the people of their livelihood and drags them into the Middle Ages. Deprived of maximizing their productivity, they expend their energies making do, rather than prospering. It’s not just a rural problem—the cities are as afflicted but they have more access to generators. Yes, of course, solutions abound, solar energy being the most obvious, but corruption, politics and mismanagement have so far prevented them from rising beyond failed policies.
Here are some pictures of the people we saw. More coming up in the next few days.