Pakistan: Survivors' stories

Thursday, August 19, 2010

  • cable cartIn place of the washed-away Kund Bridge, Besham people operate a risky cable cart mechanism. For Rs. 10, or 22 cents, people and goods are pulled back and forth over the river. Most people waiting to cross want to collect relief goods.
  • trucksTrucks carrying relief items reach Kund Bridge area, Besham, for distribution.
  • Haleem KhanHaleem Khan carries a new bucket, water storage cans and water cooler, in the town of Besham.
  • GulistanGulistan, aged 80, of Kohistan collects his relief package. He heads a household of 14 family members.
  • Haleem Khan flourHaleem Khan shoulders his bag of wheat flour, in Besham.
  • Gulistan fingerprintGulistan, aged 80, provides his fingerprint before collecting his reilef package in Besham.
  • SalarSalar, aged 43, collects a sack of food. Salar is a tranporter by profession but has been unable to work since the Kund Bridge in Besham collapsed. He lives in a joint family of 50 members.
  • Gulistan, 80Gulistan, 80, supports a family of 14. He received CWS-P/A relief items at Kund Bridge, Besham.

ACT member Church World Service-Pakistan/Afghanistan talks to people in the Balochistan village of Sultan Kot about what they have lost in the wake of the floods.

My Family Survived Because I Did Not Go to Work
If Bashir Ahmed had gone to work the day the flood hit, his parents, two younger brothers, wife and four children would probably be dead. 

Before the floods, Ahmed used to go to work in the neighbouring city of Sibi every day as a labourer, while his family remained in Sultan Kot village. He was struggling financially but his family had food and his eldest children went to school.

On the day of the floods, Ahmed, 30, stayed at home. He believes that, had he been in Sibi, his family might not have escaped with their lives. His parents are elderly and needed help escaping the flood waters. His brothers are too young and fearful to have been able to deal with the situation. Ahmed managed to help his entire family to safety.

His family have lost everything they own, including their house. Ahmed welcomes the food and other relief goods provided by ACT Alliance member CWS-P/A, as they have helped meet his family’s immediate needs. But his family still needs more help to get through the disaster.

We Lost Everything
Before the floods, Mohammad Umar lived a simple but good life with his family. A farmer by profession, he had four hectares of land in Sultan Kot village and was depending on the cotton crop to keep his eight children in school. However, in late July, when floods suddenly hit his village, he lost everything.

He and his family escaped with only the clothes on their backs. Their house collapsed under the force of the torrents and basic items like utensils remain buried under mud. His standing crop of cotton was also washed away. To add insult to injury, what little remained of his crops of sorghum, wheat and cotton was destroyed by an infestation of insects after the rains and floods.

Mohammad Umar was, only days ago, living a happy life. Now, in a state of depression, he said he could not even salvage a blanket for his children. Unsure of what he would do for work and survival, he was thankful for the relief goods provided by CWS-PA for the ACT Alliance.

My Family Needs Support to Rebuild

Just before the floods, Khatoon Bibi became very scared. She had heard the government warning of the threat of floods. But she never imagined that they would rob her of everything.

When the deluge came, Khatoon Bibi lost her house and all her belongings. Now she suffers health problems, including heat stroke and diarrhea. Many people from her village, which does not have health facilities, went to neighbouring Sibi for medical treatment. However, Khatoon Bibi’s family cannot even afford the cost of travelling there. She is afraid her children could catch malaria or other illnesses because they all sleep outdoors, with only a few trees to shade them.

Depression is evident in her words and expressions. With no money and little support from the government or aid agencies, Khatoon Bibi doubts her family can rebuild its house.

Her family has received food from ACT through the efforts of CWS-P/A, for which she is grateful. The package reduces her immediate concerns about food supply for the next 10 days, the length of time she estimates the food will last. Her attention has turned to rebuilding her life as she worries about her children’s future. 

My Family Never Suffered Like This

Sawan Khan never imagined that the summer holiday he was enjoying with his children would turn into a nightmare, leaving him with no house or money. When the flood hit his village, his house collapsed. His family now endures terrible living conditions, worse especially for his three sons and four daughters.

It was 10 days after the floods before electricity was restored in his village. During this time, his family suffered in temperatures that hit 50C. Ironically, the floods created a shortage of drinking water in his village. People had to travel several kilometres to fetch muddy rainwater for drinking, and during that time many people became sick with malaria, diarrhea and heat stroke.

Sawan, an office attendant in the local boys’ primary school, is worried about his children’s well-being. He can not afford to move his family away from the village. The food package and other relief goods he has received from CWS-P/A will last them 15 days. After that, they will be back to square one.