In 2005, Northern Pakistan was devastated by one of the worst earthquakes in recent times. More than 80,000 people were killed, approximately a 100,000 injured, and millions became homeless in the Himalayan terrain.
In 2006, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that 667 people had survived under the fallen debris with crushed vertebrae and sustained spinal cord injuries. They became paralyzed and lost control on their bowel and bladder functions. These survivors were mostly young women and children, who were in their homes and schools, while many men escaped uninjured. Most of these survivors live on the slopes of the Karakoram and Himalayan mountains of Kashmir and the Khyber Pakhtoon Khwa province in Pakistan.
In December 2005, a team comprising of Dr. Zeba Vanek, Susan Escueta and Dr. Sofia Janjua travelled to Pakistan from the USA and joined relief work organized by Hashoo Foundation (HF) and WHO. Dr. Zahoor and other members of HF facilitated this work and they saw many of these patients during their trip. The state of the spinal cord injury survivors was tragic. They were helpless, scared and uncertain about their future after having lost their homes, family and control on their bodies.
A desire to work together by individuals and organizations, with the goal of rehabilitating these paralyzed survivors and their families towards a life of dignity and independence, helped create The Spinal Cord Injury Project for Pakistan Earthquake Rehabilitation (SCIPPER) in 2005.
Melody Rehabilitation Center in 2005, in Islamabad, run by Ms. Nafeesa Khattak and her friends, where 72 paralyzed women were cared for
Relief Team to Kohistan, Pakistan in 2005 after the earthquake
Mian Rafiq was a 16 year old student in 2005 when he became paralyzed during the Pakistan earthquake.
He has been sponsored for his basic necessities and has been continuing his education through home tutoring. A buffalo has been provided to his family to supplement his nutrition and their income and a home adapted for a person with a disability has been built for him.