India Floods: A Family on the Run


Anonymous man

Devendra Singh, Save the Children India

Vijaynagar, India

July 1, 2013


Forced separation of
families has taken place in areas where relief has been scarce.

In the village of
Vijaynagar in the Agastyamuni stretch in Rudraprayag district, along the river
Mandakini, I met with the survivors of the havoc that descended in Uttarakhand.
Many of them are finding their way from the upper reaches of the mountains and
the secluded villages and are making their way to safer areas, where their
day-to-day needs can be taken care of and where they can access the aid that
has not been able to reach them.

India_floods_a_family_on_the_runDhirendra Lal, 42, is
a father who has hitchhiked for about 12 miles from a village called
Chandrapuri with his son and two daughters. His wife has stayed back in the
village with an infant daughter. He was not at home when the disaster struck
since he lives and works in Sonprayag in a hotel. When it became evident that
there was a disaster, he feared the worst and he quickly made his way back to
his village where his family lived as the heavy rains continued to pelt down. A
bridge had been washed away so his trek was longer and more arduous than ever
before. His wife had managed to rescue their four children, as well as their
cow. He is now on his way to Gunou village, which is about 6 miles away to
leave his children with his in-laws who live there.

How has the trauma
affected his family and the children? “The children scream at night,” Lal says. 
I ask Ankita, the elder of the two daughters, how she reacted to the floods. “I
ran and ran,” she replies in a murmur, “and continued running. It felt as if
the water was chasing me forever.” I ask Ankush what he needs most now. “A
home,” he replies, “somewhere where I can be safe from floods and stay with my
parents.”

Two of Lal’s daughters
are in classes 7th and 5th and his son is in 2nd
class. What about their schooling?  When will they resume their studies?
“I don’t know,” he says. “We have lost everything we had – my priority is to
find a way to rebuild our lives.” It will be many months before his three
children are able to go back to school, he fears.

India_floods_update

Two children stand next to their washed-away home. Their family received relief supplies at Rudraprayag. Photo by Save the Children.

Finally, I ask Lal
about the relief that he has received. “Nothing,” he replies. “Nobody has even
come to meet us as yet. We have little to eat and that’s why I am dropping
three of my children at our relative’s house. When I go back home, I will
reconstruct my home. Hopefully there will still be work for me, since now there
are no pilgrims coming to stay in hotels.”

We inform him about a
relief camp that is providing food and other essential items in neighboring
Silli village and he says that he will surely halt there on his way back —
though he does not know how he can carry heavy provisions through the mountains
to where his home was.

The road to his
village will take months to repair but some relief material is now being
carried to such cut-off but relatively close villages on ponies now. The only
fear is that with much of the relief supplies having been hurriedly dumped in
easier to access areas, will relief continue to come, especially when the media
attention dies out in the coming weeks? 

How you can help

Please donate now to the India Floods Children in Crisis Fund to support Save the Children's responses to ongoing and urgent needs as a result of the disaster.

Philippines Flooding Endangers Thousands of Children

Anna Lindenfors

Anna Lindenfors, Philippines Country Director

Manila, Philippines

December 19, 2011


It must have been terrifying. Flash floods create a fast moving body of water, sweeping away everything in its path. Cars, trees, people.

Yesterday morning (night-time in the Philippines) very heavy rainfall caused rivers to burst their banks and flood the area – killing hundreds and leaving thousands more stranded, without food or shelter, in the middle of the night.

Save the Children’s team on the ground launched into action immediately – assessing the damage on the most vulnerable children and their families.

Travelling along the highway you can see bodies lined up – waiting to be identified. Of the hundreds of dead, there are only a few injured. This is not unusual in a flood. Very few people caught up in the path of a flash flood will survive. Most of the dead were children, again not a surprise. Children are smaller, lighter and less likely to know where to go in an emergency. Those that survived will be cold, exhausted and terrified. Some will have been separated from their parents in the chaos.

Several of Save the Children’s team are coping with personal tragedy while responding to the flooding. One tells me their family didn’t survive intact. The debris of a destroyed house fell on top of a relative, killing her. Another tells me that water levels are so high their home is completely uninhabitable. They are worried about electrocution, so can’t return home. Yet another reports that they have run out of coffins in the town, and he doesn’t know what will happen.

The team carries on anyway, urgently struggling through debris and floodwater to reach the victims of the crisis. Several had been on the phone through the night, trying to comfort those stranded on rooftops of houses. 

The next few days are critical. Children are always the most vulnerable during emergencies – and in the aftermath. Stagnant water and tainted supplies can cause disease. Longer term children will face hunger and malnutrition – in a country where 30% of the population already live beneath the poverty line, lost food stocks and lost income can push families over the brink.

50,000 children have been caught up in the flash flooding, and we’re working around the clock to reach vulnerable children and adults before it is too late. Please help us.

Save the Children is launching an emergency response to help victims of the flooding. Our experts are on the ground to distribute drinking water and essential items to families affected by the disaster. 

Ambitious Goals Six Months After Pakistan’s Devastating Floods

Alex gray

Alex Grey, Deputy Team Leader, Save the Children – Pakistan

Islamabad, Pakistan

Friday, January 28, 2011



Six months after the severe floods devastated the whole of Pakistan from the north to the south, an area greater that Great Britain, the crisis for Pakistan’s children is far from over. Cases of disease and malnutrition are increasing; millions are without adequate clothing and shelter during the freezing cold winter nights and in the worst-hit region, the southern province of Sindh, large areas still remain underwater. Many farmers will not be able to plant winter crops, meaning their livelihoods and access to food in the coming months and years is severely affected. Government officials say some of the worst-affected areas could take up to six months to dryout.

I recently arrived in Pakistan to take over as the deputy team leader for Save the Children’s flood emergency response. I decided to take the role after visiting in October, almost three months on from the floods, when I saw what a massive crisis this was (something that did not come across in the global media the same way that the Haiti earthquake crisis had earlier in the year). I had recently returned from Haiti, which was hit by the astonishingly devastating earthquake in January earlier that year, and I had not expected to land in Pakistan and see a disaster on the scale of which I did. After spending two weeks with the extremely hard working and dedicated team here in Pakistan who launched and were in the middle of a massive (and somewhat successful from Save the Children’s part) response, and after being confronted with such a massive crisis on the ground and seeing the dire need here in Pakistan, I knew I wanted to come back and work here.

Having just arrived into my new role, and having went into the field and spent two weeks in Punjab and in Sindh, the worst hit by the floods, I realize there is still a massive amount to do to restore the lives of the flood affected communities, and I worry that things will not improve in Pakistan for a very long time. I say this, because I have sat and chatted with children in our temporary learning centres and child friendly spaces (huge tents that we constructed to replace damaged schools where kids come together, learn and play in a safe environment) and heard from them how, that even when the school building was there before the floods, they had not attended school in two years because the government-paid teachers had not come to teach them. If this was the case before the floods, I fear what the future will look like for these children. That’s why Save the Children has ambitious aims.

During my first two weeks in the field, I spent a lot of time in flood affected communities with children and parents hearing their stories about what happened during the floods, in the immediate aftermath and listening to and observing their needs now, 6 months on. One of the most pressing and immediate needs that children and parents alike conveyed to me time and again was still shelter, warm clothing and blankets. It’s warm and sunny in the days, but bitterly cold in the evenings – I have experienced it myself but nothing compared to what the flood affected communities here have to endure. The majority of children (and parents) I spent time with have one set of clothes, thin as they were wearing them in the summer, and the rest of their belongings (clothes, blankets, furniture) were washed away in the floods, often along with their houses. Some are now living in tents, some are building back mud houses themselves, which will more than likely only be washed away in any future floods, some are building temporary shelters (with the help of Save the Children and other actors), but some are still living under tarpaulins without blankets and warm clothing. Save the Children has been providing shelter,blankets and winter clothing and is still distributing these life-saving relief items but it is still not enough despite the massive scale and number of beneficiaries we have reached.

Another major concern is with health and nutrition. I visited a stabilization centre run by Save the Children in Shikarpur in Sindh, where severely malnourished children were referred to by our mobile and static health and nutrition teams in the field. I met with four mothers and their severely malnourished children and was moved to tears to see a young boy almost 2-years-old who was so malnourished that he looked only 5-months-old. Another boy could not stop crying, but no sound was coming from him because he was so malnourished that he didn’t have the energy to make a sound. I could see the pain in his eyes and in his face, and then I spoke to the mothers of these poor children, who were largely malnourished themselves, and heard their stories and of the pain that they felt because they did not have the means provide food and nourishment for their own children.

I thought of what that must feel like for a parent, to not be able to provide for yourself and for your children, and the indignity of it. Again, I felt my eyes welling up. The positive thing about the experience is that all these children who I spent time with were going to live because of the intervention of Save the Children and our wonderful staff who go out to the communities and mobilize them and work hand-in-hand to identify and address their immediate needs. In addition, the mothers’ details were taken and our livelihoods program will ensure that they will receive a cash grant which will hopefully see that their family do not go short of food and survive until the worst of this crisis is over. That day spent in the hospital with the malnourished children, their mothers and our dedicated staff of doctors made me realize how important it is for the government, donors and international community to keep responding as we move into the“recovery phase”, and we are all working hard and hoping that we can continue to build back better these communities in the months and years ahead.

As we look forward at our recovery strategy I am asking myself what we can do to improve the lives of children in Pakistan in the future. It’s what everyone is talking about 6 months on from the floods. However my first impressions and observations after spending two weeks in the field is that it’s hard, even impossible, especially for the flood affected communities in Pakistan, to think about or focus on the future when there is still so many basic immediate needs that have yet to be met.

We have had a great response so far and I am so proud of the 2,000 amazing and dedicated staff here working 7 days a week who have been distributing relief items, providing shelter and protection and safe spaces for children ensuring their health needs are met and that their education continues.The work here is far from done and it will take a very long time for Pakistan to recover, but when I visit a hospital and speak to a mother whose young boy’s life has been saved due to our good work, I am inspired, thankful and hopeful for the future of the children whose lives were (and are) at risk after the floods six months ago.

______________

Learn more about our emergency response to the flooding in Pakistan 

 Help Us Respond to the Pakistan Flood Emergency. Please Donate Now.

Education and psychosocial support to the most vulnerable children

Faris-headshot Faris Kasim, Pakistan Senior Communications Coordinator, Save the Children

Islamabad, Pakistan

Friday, January 28, 2011


Six months since the floods struck Pakistan, Save the Children’s relief work has reached the most remote and distant corners of the affected areas. From the cold, mountainous hamlets of northern Swat to the devastated plains of Dadu in Sindh, our teams are working diligently to assist people across the length and breadth of the world’s sixth most populous country. More than 2.6 million men, women and children have benefitted since August 2010 from our work. Last week, I had the opportunity to travel to one of the worst affected places in Pakistan, district Rajanpur in south Punjab.

Rajanpur is a narrow, 20 kilometers wide strip of land sandwiched between the Indus River on the East and the Sulaiman Mountain range on the West. Monsoon floods occur almost every year in Rajanpur, but in 2010 the scale and impact was much more severe. The local people were not prepared at all. In August last year, floods struck the district from both sides – banks of the Indus bursting on the east and hill torrents from the west – inundating 33 out of the 44 union councils in the district.

Overnight, a vast majority of the population in Rajanpur found themselves engulfed on all sides by an unending expanse of water, five to ten feet high. Currently, Save the Children is the only organization providing wide scale humanitarian assistance in Rajanpur. In an area called Bosangang, Save the Children’s mobile health teams have walked for several kilometers in knee deep floodwaters to provide people with basic healthcare services. I was visiting temporary schools built in places where public schools were completely destroyed.

As the ‘Psychological Assessment’ of flood affected children, conducted by Save the Children reveals, I realized how many students were facing several child protection issues, especially behavioral and psychological problems. Of all the children I met during the visit, I distinctly remember 9-year-old Jamshed at the government boys’ primary school in village Shahnawaz. Like other children in the school, he was busy writing Urdu from the blackboard but unlike others he seemed oblivious when one student began reciting a poem in front of the class. I walked towards him and asked him his name. I received no response. I foolishly asked louder and learned the reason for his indifference from the teacher.

J at school
Jamshed
, along with two older siblings, is deaf. His father is a poor farmer who cannot afford special education for his children. Jamshed has been attending the primary school for two years and even without any hearing abilities, has learned how to write alphabets, grasp the meaning of basic words and make simple sentences.

The floods had submerged his village in six feet of water and displaced the people two kilometers away to a higher and safer ground. Jamshed stayed on this small patch of dry land with his family for over forty days, cut off from the rest of the world. With nowhere else to go, his family depended on helicopters and boats to provide food and drinking water. After the floodwater receded, Jamshed’s home suffered minor damages however the classrooms of his school were destroyed, furniture ruined and the teachers unable to reach the school due to destruction of the roads.

Jamshed’s cousin was incidentally near the school and helped me communicate with him using sign language. I was surprised to learn that Jamshed is a natural artist; he had made a television, cell-phone, bull cart and books from clay while his notebook was full of beautiful rural landscapes. He wishes to study till 12th grade and become an artist when he grows up. However, his cousin mentioned that since the floods Jamshed has become more shy and expressionless. He hesitates going to the nearby town of Kotla for errands with his father and is terrified whenever he hears about rain. Save the Children’s Child Protection team has also set up a Child Friendly Space in the vicinity of the school in village Shahnawaz. Specific psychosocial support is being provided to flood affected children at the CFS and identified child protection cases are also referred to service providers in the district.

Jamshed was very pleased to show me the handmade models of electronic items he had made. Like any other 9-year-old, he smiled at every question I asked, interpreted by his cousin and replied fervently with calculated hand gestures. J holding art

I thought about all the hard work Save the Children has done in Rajanpur since the floods: dispensing huge amounts of aid, distributing tons of relief goods and putting in thousands of man hours. We work in areas that have been neglected for decades. Education is rare and seldom do families escape the harsh cycle of poverty and deprivation. Our effort to educate one such poor child to gain even primary level education makes it all worthwhile. Like Jamshed’s cousin said, ‘If education is promoted here, there is still hope for children like Jamshed.’

___________________

Learn more about our emergency response to the flooding in Pakistan 

 Help Us Respond to the Pakistan Flood Emergency. Please Donate Now.

Still So Far to Go

  PK_morley_miles_ramm_00 Carolyn Miles, Chief Operating Officer, Save the Children

 

Swat, Pakistan

Monday, September 6, 2010

 The water has receded in Swat but has left behind vast needs.    

Over 1,600 people died in the floods, many of them in this area when water from the mountains came rushing down into villages, bringing lots of large trees and debris, which tore away bridges, sheared off houses along the river and swept away whole villages. One of our staff at the local Save the Children office showed us pictures of that day – torrents of water running through what was the main street of his village.  He told me stoically that the next day the main part of the village was gone. He lost several friends to the rushing water.    

It will take a long time to get things back to normal in an area that was considered to be one of the most beautiful in the country, with steep green mountains, lush orchards and farms, and many streams and rivers. It used to be a place Pakistanis and visitors came to get away from the heat and crowds of the city. 

That won't be true for a long time now.       

Swat is not unaccustomed to misery. This also is an area that was devastated by conflict the last year, with heavy shelling between the Taliban and army displacing tens of thousands. Families were just starting to return to their homes and beginning to recover when the heavy rains hit this July.       

Children are suffering from diarrhea and skin diseases caused by dirty water. They need to get back to normal routines and start school again. They were happy to see us today but several told us with sadness in their eyes about how the water rose so quickly, forcing some of them out their homes in the middle of the night. When they returned many of their homes were missing or damaged, their land eaten away by the surging river.    

The greatest needs right now are still for the basics — household supplies like buckets, jerry cans, soap and pots and pans as families lost everything. Food is also needed as fields were swept away along the banks of the river.    

I saw a distribution of household and hygiene kits, a tent distribution, a health clinic and hygiene training, and saw the first day of our food voucher program. With this program, funded by Food for Peace, we are able to give families vouchers that they can use in the local market to buy the foodstuffs they most need. Our staff who manage the program told us "This works so well because it isn’t a hand-out and it lets people buy what they want from the local shopkeepers". The vouchers will buy enough food for a month and support the local economy as well.    

I met a young girl of about 13 years old. Because of the fighting, she had been out of school for several years. She had recently returned home and thought this would be the year she could start school again. Sadly, the floods have damaged her school and now she must wait again to start back. Without help, she and others like her will miss out on all the opportunities that an education offers.       

Save the Children's work on distribution of non-food items, mobile medical clinics, food voucher distribution, and child-friendly spaces is helping tens of thousands of people in the Swat valley. It is just a part of the work we are doing in many areas along the main rivers where more than 17 million people have been affected by the floods.    

As our staff in Pakistan work hard to meet the needs of children here, they worry that they will not have enough resources and people will start to forget about the tremendous difficulties still to come. The international humanitarian community and people around the world need to continue to help Pakistan recover from this largest disaster they have ever experienced.

__________________

For more information on Save the Children's response in Pakistan and for ways to help, please visit our Pakistan Flood Emergency page.

 

Mind-Boggling Destruction in South Punjab

Friday, August 27, 2010 

Save the Children's Reporting Coordinator in Pakistan

After spending three weeks in the cold mountainous Swat
valley, I arrived in the hot and humid climate of Multan to work
alongside Save the Children teams working in the worst affected
districts of Muzaffargarh, Rajanpur and Dera Ghazi Khan. The floods
arrived here a week after the showers began in late July. There were
reports of nearly 300,000 people displaced overnight. There was also
news of entire villages living on the highways and in government
schools of Muzaffargarh and Multan. However, none of the reports came
close to the reality on ground.


JT.PAKISTAN.15AUG10.021_76713.JPG

Displaced by flooding her village, Sakina camps at the side of the road with her 10 children and goat
Photo Courtesy Jason Tanner

Destruction in Muzaffargarh


The sight of makeshift shelters and tents begins at
xthe border of Muzaffargarh and Multan districts. Long lines of men,
women and children are found loitering on both sides of the busy
traffic. Besides those displaced from remote areas, people of nearby
villages are also found on the highway – their dilapidated homes
visible a few meters away.  It is mind-boggling to consider the
populations affected by the floods. In the district of Kot Addo the
lives of approximately 112,000 men, women and children have been
disrupted. These vast numbers of people do not have food, shelter,
clothing, access to health care and have completely lost their
livelihoods due to the floods. They will certainly require assistance
in the coming months, if not years, to not only resettle and establish
their lives but also to rejuvenate their income generating activities.


JT.PAKISTAN.14AUG10.006_76679.JPG

Imtiaz, 25, with her 2-day-old unnamed baby
Photo Courtesy Jason Tanner

Relief to Brahimwala

Save the Children is the first NGO that has provided
food rations here. The packages include wheat, lentils, cooking oil,
micronutrient biscuits as well as tents, jerry cans, water buckets and
blankets to people who have lost their homes in district Muzaffargarh.
During one such distribution to the village of Brahimwala, I learned
how the villagers had departed from their homes in haste to reach safe
ground 25 kilometers away in the city of Muzaffargarh. There were no
registration points or information centers available for the displaced
to receive aid. They spent many days under the open sun before finding
temporary shelters on open grounds, roads and rampantly setup camps.
Food and drinking water distribution was irregular and chaos erupted
each time a truck arrived with provisions.

Unfortunately, the urban poor who live in shantytowns
of Muzaffargarh and Multan had joined the displaced to fight for
whatever donations they could lay their hands on. The needs are so
great.

As soon as the waters receded displaced people
returned to their homes. Although, most villages are still submerged
with the flood’s deluge of putrid water and mud, families have pitched
up tents alongside roads and canals. Water in Brahimwala has withdrawn,
demolishing each and every house in the village. The conditions are
appalling but with nowhere else to turn, people are living amidst mud,
flies and the remains of their houses squashed on the ground. The murky
flood waters and searing heat has worsened the dismal condition and
have increased the prevalence of diseases like diarrhea, malaria, skin
and respiratory infections.

Each and every member of Save the Children realizes
that an intense and continued support is essential to normalize the
lives of flood-affected people in Pakistan.



JT.PAKISTAN.14AUG10.014_76663.JPG

Shamim,45, mourns the death of her four children and husband.

Photo Courtesy Jason Tanner

Little Ishrat Finds Shelter

Thursday, August 26, 2010 

Save the Children's Reporting Coordinator in Pakistan

Ishrat-1Ishrat, a 6-year-old Pakistani girl, calls the village of Brahimwala home. Brahimwala is situated near one of the several canals which irrigates the wheat, corn and rice fields of district Muzafargarh with water from the River Indus.

In late July, epic monsoon rains caused flash floods in the River Indus. Vast torrents of the flood waters totally collapsed the banks of the river in southern Punjab, especially in the districts of Muzafargarh, Rajanpur and Dera Ghazi Khan.

"We heard in the late afternoon that a massive flood was coming towards Brahimwala." said Ishrat’s father, Talib, a sharecropper. Ill-prepared for the disaster, they grabbed some precious items such as food and clothing and rushed towards the city of Muzafargarh.

"My mother grabbed me as we ran out of the village," Ishrat remembered.

That evening the village was struck with flood waters at speeds of 30mph.Evacuation The mud and brick houses collapsed within minutes as the entire village was submerged in six feet of water. Ishrat and her family were part of the mass exodus of 300,000 people who fled to Muzafargarh by motorized vehicle, donkey-carts and on foot in search of safer ground

"We walked for many hours that night and slept under a tree." Ishrat said.

In the next few days, the government, armed forces and local charities had set up temporary shelters and began providing the displaced families with cooked food.

However, Talib said, the distribution of food was chaotic, “we were lucky to receive even one meal a day."

Just when they were expecting the waters to recede, approximately 700,000 displaced people in Muzaffargarh were shocked to hear that they had to evacuate the city. A single road was used by these people to reach neighboring Multan. Ishrat and her family moved into a generous villager’s home near Multan city – 12  people in three rooms. They survived for 10 days on the handful of food rations provided by their hosts. When they heard that the flood waters finally receded from Brahimwala, they immediately returned home.

However, the arrival home was quite painful.
Ishrat-4

"Everything I owned is either destroyed or covered with mud." Talib said. "My share of the harvested wheat is ruined and my home has entirely collapsed."

As the rains continued, Ishrat and her family were hungry and had no roof over their heads. Devoid of all possessions and savings, the family was destitute and vulnerable.
Save the Children’s teams began to assess damages and select the neediest families to receive food rations and temporary housing items in Muzafargargh district. Due to extensive flood damage, Brahimwala’s residents were one of the first areas selected for emergency support.Ishrat-3"The people came to our village and asked us questions," Ishrat said. "They promised to give us some things to make our home."

Talib was delighted the morning Save the Children handed him a tent, blankets, jerry cans and buckets for his family. Food rations — including 170 pounds of wheat, 30 packets of micronutrient biscuits for his children and 5 liters of cooking oil — were provided the following day.

Ishrat ran around the rumble of her home clutching a water bucket, excited that she will now have a home.

"I have no words to describe how grateful I am. We have a roof over our heads and enough to eat so I don’t feel hungry anymore."

Sajjad’s New Home

Friday, August 13, 2010 

Save the Children's Reporting Coordinator in Pakistan

Sajjad desk  Sajjad, 14, lives in the suburb of Jail in the city of Bahrain, Swat. Jail is an urban locality of more than 50 households and lies on the banks of the River Swat. Besides residential houses, it is full of commercial plazas, restaurants, hotels and guesthouses catering to tourists from all over Pakistan. Sajjad is the eldest of five siblings and studies in Class 7 at Swat Education Complex, a private school in Bahrain.   

Sajjad's father works as a school teacher and owns an apple farm near River Swat. He wishes Sajjad to excel in his education and study in a university.  

A year ago, Sajjad’s family faced great hardship when they were displaced from their homes by the conflict between the Pakistan army and the Taliban in Swat. Sajjad’s father could not earn a single rupee for months since schools were closed and the apple farm stagnated in his absence. However, they had quickly rejuvenated their lives after the conflict ceased.  

On Wednesday, July 28, 2010, unprecedented monsoon rains caused flash floods in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, including Swat. Areas bordering the River Swat were hit with vast torrents of floodwaters, causing widespread destruction of life and property. Bahrain was one of the worst affected cities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa – entire streets and hamlets were washed away within 24 hours. The suburb of Jail was terribly devastated by the watery onslaught.  

Sajjad signing up  “It had been raining for two days when we were told that Jail was surrounded by water,” recounted Sajjad. “Our neighbors were hastily running uphill. We collected all our precious goods and moved into an uncle’s house in a safer area of Bahrain. Later that day we found that our house had been destroyed by the flooded river.”  

The next morning, Sajjad’s father was shocked to see his entire apple farm ruined by murky floodwater. Since then, he has fallen ill and remains depressed throughout the day.   

Sajjad said he lost all his books, clothes and playing equipment. With the efforts of notable community members, food rations are being distributed in Bahrain but they are not enough for Sajjad and his host uncle’s families. 

“I do not know when we will ever have a place of our own,” said Sajjad.  

Save the Children began assisting flood survivors immediately after the rains ceased in Swat. Separate teams assessed damage and identified the neediest families in the worst-affected areas including Bahrain. Save the Children first selected families who had lost their homes to receive tents with bamboo and a shelter kit for setting up temporary housing structures. Since they had lost their home, Sajjad’s family received shelter support.   

Sajjad bucket  Accompanied by his uncle, Sajjad traveled for five hours to reach Save the Children’s distribution center. They were among the first in line to receive the promised tent, bamboo, buckets, water containers and other shelter items. His family was eagerly awaiting his return knowing that they could then move into their own space and begin rebuilding their lives.  

An excited Sajjad said, “I know these things will not replace my home but at least it will be my family’s first step toward a new home.”          



Learn more about our emergency response to the flooding in Pakistan

Help Us Respond to the Pakistan Flood Emergency. Please Donate Now.

New Hope for Qamar

Thursday, August 12, 2010 

Save the Children's Reporting Coordinator in Pakistan

QamarQamar, 13, lives in the village of Girlagan in UC Bahrain, Swat. Girlagan has 200 households and is situated on the banks of River Swat near the city of Bahrain, a famous tourist destination in Pakistan. Qamar has four brothers and three younger sisters and they all attend public government schools in Girlagan. Qamar is studying in Class 6 and loves to play cricket.  

Qamar’s father is unemployed but his eldest brother runs a small shop in Quetta city to support the family. They live in a small two-room mud house reinforced with wooden beams since they cannot afford to build a brick and steel structure.   On Wednesday, July 28, 2010, unprecedented monsoon rains caused flash floods in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, including Swat. Areas bordering the River Swat were hit with vast torrents of the flood waters, causing widespread destruction of life and property. Due to its location, the village of Girlagan and the surrounding areas of Bahrain city were one of the worst hit areas in Swat.  

“Water started entering my home in the afternoon,” remembers Qamar. “People were saying that we should leave since the river would destroy everything in its path.” 

In the next few hours, Qamar’s family gathered their precious items and ran to a neighbor’s house uphill. At midnight, the River Swat roared into Girlagan and destroyed the entire street where Qamar’s house was located. Since then, they have been living in a generous neighbor’s house but were still barely making ends meet. Their few savings have been depleted on purchasing expensive food items from the bazaar in nearby Bahrain city.  GIRLAGAY

“My mother bundled up our clothes but we lost all our household items,” says Qamar. “Because I was taking care of my younger brothers and sisters, I was only able to grab my schoolbag. My entire collection of storybooks and cricket bats washed away in the flood.” 

Qamar’s father says that two days after his house was destroyed, a relief agency accompanied by government officials came to Girlagan and asked them several questions. They promised to deliver emergency aid through helicopters. However, no relief has been provided to the survivors of Girlagan yet.  

A few days ago, Save the Children’s teams assessed damages and identified the neediest families in UC Bahrain and UC Mankyal in Swat for distribution of tents with bamboo and a shelter kit for setting up temporary housing structures. Since they had lost their home, Qamar’s family was immediately selected to receive shelter support.  

Qamar“The day before yesterday, I met Save the Children team,” says Qamar’s father. “I answered all their questions but was ambivalent about their promise to provide temporary housing material. 

“We left Girlagay yesterday and walked for four hours to reach Fatehpur,” he adds. “We arrived here early this morning and were surprised to find tents and bamboos being distributed to those who had been selected in Girlagan and other villages of UC Bahrain.” 

After checking their national identity cards, Save the Children handed over shelter items to Qamar and his father and also provided a small amount of cash to assist them in transport of the materials. 

“Thank God that we can make our own temporary house now,” Qamar’s father says. “This is a blessing for my family.” 

These are the first relief items that Qamar’s family has received. 

Says Qamar: “I am now hopeful that we can rebuild our home and continue our lives as before.”

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Living Under the Pakistan Open Sky in the Rain

Monday, August 9, 2010 

Save the Children's Reporting Coordinator in Pakistan

Hussain, age 65, is from a small village in southern Punjab. He has lost all his belongings and now lives under the open sky without shelter. He has lost hope.

“We were sitting on a high patch of ground expecting that we would not be touched by flood waters. Suddenly, we saw that the water was gradually rising so I decided to take my family and animals to a safer place,” said Hussain.

“I did not get a chance to pick up any other belongings. The flood waters swept away all our food, clothes, utensils and other household items.”

Hussain-bakhash

“Along with my family, I walked five hours to the railroad station, which is on high ground. For three days no one provided us food. We don’t have clothes to replace the ones we are wearing. Due to continuous rain, all our clothes are wet,” said Hussain, his eyes welling up with tears.

Now, as he sits on the ground, under the open sky in the rain, he expects some miracle to happen so that he can to return to a normal life.

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Learn more about our emergency response to the flooding in Pakistan
Help Us Respond to the Pakistan Flood Emergency. Please Donate Now.