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Friday, August 20, 2010

"I've lost everything in the flood," Shahnawaz Deya

Shahnawaz Deya, 47, a farmer, has lost his home, cattle and crops during the recent floods in Pakistan. He belongs to Thul - a village in the interior Sindh and is sheltering in the camp since the last 5 days with his entire family – wife and 4 daughters. We met him at a medical camp in Qasimabad organized by Strengthening Participatory Organization (SPO) in collaboration with the Government Police and SPARC.

“I’ve lost every thing in the flood,” he said gloomily. “Things were fine when I left for Fajr prayers. At around 8.00 am water gushed into my house and its level kept rising; I had no choice but to leave. This camp is the only shelter my family and I have.”

His wife, Ammat Bibi is equally distressed. With tearful eyes she told us, “My eldest daughter was to get married this December. We had long saved for her dowry, but now it’s all destroyed. Besides, my youngest daughter has developed acute malaria. We’re lucky they’re providing us timely free medical assistance here, otherwise she would’ve died.” Tears began rolling down her cheeks.

SPO is a local NGO and is partnering with the British Council to deliver Active Citizens workshops in Hyderabad. It has engaged a large number of young people in the workshops - many of whom are volunteering at this medical camp and participating in fund raising.

We met with Sheraz Chandio, SPO’s representative, he informed us they’ve purchased more than 50,000 medicines ever since the camp’s set up and 4 doctors are on duty 24/7. “We’re trying our best to provide people as many facilities as possible. We’re providing them food, clothes and medicines. We’re also trying to pump water out of houses so these people could return.”

Taking a look around the camp, we noticed many morose faces and defeated souls – each with a heart-breaking story to tell. No one had even anticipated that a sudden calamity would change their lives forever. Sons have died, daughters are missing families lost, homes gone and the land’s covered with stagnant water as far as you can see.

It’s time we show solidarity and help our brothers and sisters – “generously”. Give alms-donate food, clothes, shoes, spare a handful of flour next time you make Chapatis – perhaps you’d save some one from starving.