About Earthquake story
In 2006 I volunteered with relief organisations Islamic Relief and Kashmir Charity Trust in earthquake-affected Azzad Kashmir. On field trips while distributing food and other aid, I found opportunities to sit with people in the fallen down villages. They often shared with me stories of what had happened for them on the day of the earthquake. I learned that in the aftermath of the quake people had come to take photographs and videos, but these activities had upset survivors in a time of grief and loss. Whilst listening, I began drawing and making portraits and found people liking this activity which showed me the capacity for drawing to be a way of being with others, in empathy.
In the fallen towns of Muzzafarabad and Bagh I found teashops filled with people who had lost their families during the quake. Huddled at tables, with their friends, hot tea, and plates of dal, they looked at me curiously. At first I sketched shyly from a corner but soon people came to look at the drawings. They would sit and talk. As they talked I drew their portraits and took notes, and a folio of stories began to grow.
I was struck by the resilience of these people who were experiencing such loss and chaos, yet who remained warm, spacious, and open. I felt honoured to be with them.
Earthquake Story is about remembering such moments during the earthquake and afterwards as were described to me in those teashops by people of Muzzafarabad and Bagh.