The hygiene packs, made up of basic items like soap and toothpaste, are considered by the British Red Cross to be essential if those who came through last year’s earthquake in Pakistan are to survive the bitterly cold winter.
With that in mind, Jersey Side by Side is to step up its campaign to bring much-needed relief to the area and is asking Islanders to give their support in its bid to raise a further £50,000.
Speaking from Red Cross London headquarters this week, Jean Le Maistre from Jersey Side by Side’s committee said that although hygiene packs might seem a basic item they were the means of survival for those in need.
The Island charity, set up after the 2004 tsunami to help disaster-hit communities, was told by the British Red Cross that a total of £100,000 worth of the packs were needed, and it is now determined to cover the entire cost.
Many of the families in remote villages in Pakistan who survived the earthquake are now suffering from frostbite, ulcers and sores which can turn to life-threatening infections due to the extreme cold at a time when their immune systems are low.
This week, Jersey Side by Side decided to donate £50,000 of locally raised funds to purchase 9,000 hygiene packs, each of which will supply a family of seven for about three months.
In this way, the Jersey charity will be reaching around 63,000 adults and children in desperate need of items to maintain their daily health.
Charity chairman Mike Wavell said although Jersey Side by Side’s main aim was to contribute towards the rebuilding of devastated communities, it was clear that at present the priority in Pakistan was to help people to survive the harsh winter.
‘Due to the extreme cold the ability of people to resist infection is very low and mouth ulcers and frostbite can lead to further complications,’ he said.
The packs, costing £5.50 each, contain toothpaste and brushes, shampoo, body soap, laundry soap, sanitary pads, a disposable razor, nail clippers, scissors and Vaseline.
‘We believe that although our main aim is to rebuild in devastated communities it would be morally wrong to hold on to funds until a project of that nature is identified while people have a more immediate need,’ he said.
Mr Wavell said the charity would continue to plan a long-term building project in Pakistan to forge a permanent link with Jersey.
A concert involving 200 schoolchildren is being staged at the Opera House on Sunday 5 February in aid of the charity.
*Donations, made payable to Jersey Side by Side, may be sent to treasurer Gill Phillips, Ravenscroft, St Saviour’s Hill, St Saviour, JE2 7LF.
The telephone pledge line at the States Treasury on 603259 is open weekdays during office hours.