As you probably heard, this week was the five year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent flooding in New Orleans. Maybe you’ve also heard a little about the flooding in Pakistan that started in early August. Have you? I asked my class today if they’d heard about what was going on in Pakistan and around a quarter of them raised their hands. I asked them what they’d heard, and a few said, “Flooding, right?”
I said, “Right.” I asked them if they knew of the extent, and they pretty much shook their heads no.
Did you know that as of two weeks ago, 20 million people in Pakistan had been displaced and needed food, shelter, and medical attention?
That’s not a typo. Here’s a link to the U.N. General Secretary’s plea for help. As he writes, more people have been affected by these floods than by the 2004 Tsunami, the 2005 Kashmir earthquake, and Haiti combined. You could throw Katrina in there, too, I think without going over the number affected by the floods that are happening right now.
Looking for something to talk about in your class? Compare Katrina anniversary awareness with knowledge of the floods in Pakistan and ask for some theories about the different reactions in the media, in America, in the school, in the world. Talk about how it is possible for the society with the easiest and best access to the most readily available and largest amount of information in human history to be generally unaware of the plight of 20 million people.
Here’s a link to an article that raises and considers various possibilities. That would, at least, be a start. I’m sure we can do more, though.