Photo: Paul Jeffrey/ACT Alliance
Week of Compassion continues to respond to the Pakistan Floods
Since June, a torrential monsoon season has devastated Pakistan, bringing the worst flooding in modern history, and leaving almost incomprehensible damage across most of the country:
Week of Compassion is responding through local ecumenical partners and will continue to do so for the long-term. With such massive impact and devastation, an expansive and evolving response will be needed for years to come. The data only show one snapshot of the circumstance; the true impact on homes, livelihoods, and emotions is seen in the people themselves.
Daniyal is eight. His family lost their entire home and all their possessions when floodwater inundated their village in the Balochistan Province of Pakistan.
“There was a lot of water, and everyone had to pack up and leave," says Daniyal. "We borrowed a tent from a neighboring community, put it outside our home and put all our important things inside, including my school bag. We spent a few days on the road before we could return home. When we came back, we saw that our house had fallen, and the water took away the tent, with everything in it, including my bag."
The only thing left was Daniyal's bicycle, tied tightly to a tree. “We have nothing now, except a borrowed charpaiy [traditional woven bed], that we put outside our house," he says. "That’s where we live now." (1)
Considering the loss of homes, but also the remaining floodwaters that have nowhere to recede, responding to malnutrition, water-borne diseases and malaria, skin and eye infections, is as critical as shelter reconstruction and food security. Mobile health units have been assembled to reach villages and communities for treatment and consultations, health awareness and disease prevention, and - with provinces anticipating an estimated 85,000 births over the coming months - are prioritizing maternal and neonatal healthcare.
Those tasked with bringing relief and recovery to these regions are doing so amid transportation, supply, and access issues, persevering to reach affected communities, and especially to attend to vulnerable individuals like pregnant and nursing mothers and children. In many regions, men have left their families behind to watch whatever land or home remains, while they venture into neighboring communities in search of emergency shelter and relief assistance and supplies. In most places, multiple families are sheltering together, both to share scarce resources and for emotional support.
Reached by boat, as eight to ten foot floodwaters remain in many ‘streets’, ecumenical partners met Tejan, who greeted them warmly and proudly welcomed them to what remained of a large, five- to six-room house, with an open patio at the center.
The floors were muddy, with standing water in most parts of the house and in the patio lay some charpayis which had silver utensils lined up, like they were just washed. Tejan quickly commented, “We just got done washing all the utensils”. How? “We use this water (pointing at the flood water settled around their house). This is the only water we have access to. We use it to wash clothes and to bathe. We try to keep it in the sun so that the dirt settles down first. We used to have a water reserve (pointing at a water tank) but with the rains, it leaked and all the dirty water got mixed into it. So we have no option but to use this. We use it for cooking too.”
Further conversation revealed that six or seven families (mostly related) live in this house together.
Tejan is a widow and mother of eleven children, most of them married. Two of her sons live in this house with them. One of them, who works at a government office, returned to his job after the rains to ensure some livelihood remains. The other son, who relied mostly on their livestock and small agrarian garden, has temporarily settled on the roadside in a self-made tent with his children to get whatever in-kind support he can from government agencies, good samaritans, or charity organizations passing by. (2)
The devastation is immense, and the needs for immediate and long-term response only increase. Week of Compassion is committed to responding across the long haul within impacted communities, serving alongside ecumenical partners and local leadership to determine the most effective and impactful ways to bring resources and response everywhere it is needed.
Gifts to Week of Compassion, designated 'International Emergency Relief'
will be used 100% to respond in these impacted communities.
1) story courtesy UNICEF - 2) story courtesy CWSA
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