Dreams and hopes fade as floods ravage Pakistan

Rural villager Lali* is one of the millions of people made homeless by the recent devastating floods in Pakistan which have killed hundreds of people and prompted the government to declare a national emergency.

Lali is tearful when she remembers the night of 23 August, when floodwaters reached her village in the Mirpurkhas district in Pakistan’s Sindh province, and she tried desperately to rescue the family’s belongings.

“I was struggling to take out our belongings from the floodwater,” she describes. But there wasn’t enough time, and much of what they own is now under water. She says the sound of the flood water approaching was terrifying, and the villagers felt completely helpless.

“Our children are terrified and most of the women of the village psychosocially distressed,” she said.

For Lali, the floods have brought not only suffering and fear but the despair of seeing long-held dreams fade. Before the floods hit, Lali family’s crops were growing well, and they were preparing to pick cotton from their fields.

“We were happy and had dreams to get savings from our crops,” she said. “We wished to register our children in a school this year.”

Now, she says, the floods have “totally washed out our crops … our animals and children are facing huge hunger as we have no grass for animals and food for our children.

“Our dreams also washed out with this flooding water. The impact of the flood will be remembered for generations.”

Pakistan floods

Flooding in Diocese of Hyderabad. Used with permission Diocese of Hyderabad/ Tearfund/ Used with permission.

In Sindh province alone, more than two million people have been affected by these latest floods. The floodwaters have destroyed crops, houses and infrastructure. People displaced by the floods are now vulnerable to communicable and waterborne diseases, and there is an urgent need for hygiene kits, drinking water, mosquito nets, medicine, food supplies, medical aid and shelter.

With no home to live in and much of what they own washed away, Lali and her family are, like so many others, relying on aid to survive. They are incredibly grateful to Tearfund’s partner, Sahara Community Health Association (SaCHA) Diocese of Hyderabad, which is providing emergency assistance to people whose lives have been turned upside down by the floods. Teams are helping families to access emergency shelter and providing food items and mosquito nets for displaced families.

“We are thankful to SaCHA DoH team that they reached out to us and provided food and courage to us,” Lali said. “Please pray for us for our safety and resilience.”

Mr Dhanji, another farmer in Sindh province, also describes the terror of the night the flood waters arrived.

“We were in bed at night when we knew that the flooding water made a devastating impact in our villages,” he said. “Suddenly we heard voices and falling mud walls; our animals made noise. There was no electricity in our village in the dark. It was very challenging to save our belongings, animals and children. We had no idea what to do or where we have to go. Children were crying, women were weeping.

“At night it was hard to find higher ground to put our belongings and animals. Finally, we put our stuff along the roadside. All night we were without shelter. We had no dry food items to cook, there was no safe drinking water. We lost our goats and sheep, there is disease in the animals, our children got boils and scabies. The mosquitos made our life worse.

“Life became confused and difficult; we lost our hopes for a better life.”

Pakistan floods

Flooding in the Diocese of Hyderabad. Used with permission Diocese of Hyderabad/ Tearfund/ Used with permission.

Mr Dhanji says that support from the SaCHA team made an enormous difference, both in practical terms and in restoring people’s spirits.

“The next day the SaCHA team reached out to us and provided cooked food and some plastic sheets to protect ourselves from rain,” he said. Staff also taught people how to construct pit latrines, and how to treat water before drinking it.

“We support each other to cope with the situation,” Mr Dhanji said. “The SaCHA team restored our hope and encouraged and supported us, giving voice and hope for the rehabilitation and better future. Please keep us in your prayers and help us at this difficult time.”

* Name changed for security and sensitivity reasons.

To donate to Tearfund’s emergency Pakistan appeal, click here.