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January 20, 2015

Affected families still struggling with emotional & financial crises


January 20, 2015

The floods in 2010 might have become a history for many but not for those who were directly hit by one of the world’s worst natural disasters in the recent history. People in certain cities in Pakistan are still struggling to cope with the emotional and financial crisis they suffered at the time of floods.
“It was a horrible day of our life, when in 2010, flash floods hit our village inundated homes, standing crops, livestock and everything, panicking us to run for life holding our children in hands,” Zeenat Bibi, a 40-year-old widow of Jafarabad district of Balochistan, recalled in an interview with ‘The News’.
The floods wiped out all traces of Zeenat’s home, forcing her to travel 354 kilometers to Quetta with her family by foot and bus. After living for two months in flood relief camp, they came back to the village to continue their life again, but still there was water everywhere. They pulled out the water and constructed a temporary hut with remaining raw material and lived there. Zeenat has five daughters and a son.
“Before flood, my daughters were used to work on agriculture fields while my son was working as daily wager at a brick kiln to support the family. But, the flood destroyed everything of us,” she said. Her 18-year-old son has recently taken examination in intermediate part I.
Most of the families in her native city are tenant farmers and attached to the earnings of the lands of landlords. The flood washed away all of their crops and left them with no earnings. Many of them became indebted of landlords.
“The challenge was huge, as we were unable to work at farm fields and brick kiln were also under water and there was no possibility of livelihood. Mostly, we used to eat at alternate day eating bread and onion,” she said.
Soon after the floods hit the area, Sungi Development Foundation conducted a base line survey in this area. “I was included in their project interventions. I am the

member of the village committee formed by the organisation. The committee nominated my family for goats and enterprise development training. I got two goats and my elder daughter got three-days training of sewing, cutting and embroidery. She also got sewing machine and other raw material.”
This is the story of almost every family in this area, they are unable to get to eat and meet the expenses of their families. However, interventions made by the non-government organisations have provided them with relief - the help that should be coming from the government.
“We are forgotten people, but these people (NGOs) helped us. They gave us hope to live, dream for the better future of our children and encouraged us to speak up for our rights.” Soomri Bibi, 40 of the village Khanpur said. Soomri, who has also taken training of traditional birth attendant (TBA), added that still there are families who barely manage one meal in a day.
“Earlier, we were unable to speak in affairs, as only our men were used to decide everything in home, now as we earn and support them in day-to-day expenses, now we get respect from them and we are consulted in decision makings.”Maryum, 30-year-old woman who has seven children said.
She said, “We now pool money by selling eggs, milk and embroidery work to send children to school and buy for them books and uniform. I have also made my husband agree to send our daughters to school.”

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