Dhapo is a widow. She has seven children (three daughters and four sons). A few years back, her husband died in a tragic accident while digging a well when he fell into it and was buried alive. She is a scheduled caste Hindu who is double marginalized: one for being a general minority and second for being a minority within the minority. She is leading a very difficult life as food insecurity remains a major cause of worry for her.
‘I am very glad to have a shelter (Chora) after my house was destroyed by heavy rainfall in the previous year (2011). I thank ActionAid and SAMI for taking care of my need of shelter. They also provided me food and non- food items in the very early days of flood devastation.” Said Dhapo.
After floods, I got seed support from SAMI and ActionAid, and was able to cultivate the crop. I want my children to study therefore I have to work much more than other fellow women. I weave caps and rilly(local shawl), do small jobs like making an earthen cooking pot and supporting other women in daily household chores.
This is how I provide for my children’s basic needs. I trust my Bhagwan (God) and remain hopeful of the good times ahead. I love to attend the REFLECT center where women discuss their issues, learn how to read and write and speak for women rights but mostly it is an opportunity to spare myself from multiple responsibilities of earning livelihood and running my home.
On recalling flood days, I feel scared of the fact that my children were crying with hunger and I really had nothing to offer them. I still wonder if SAMI and ActionAid had not come to our rescue and support, we could not have survived longer with hunger, homelessness and a chaos.’
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11 years old Zahida, ActionAid’s sponsored child is amongst thousands of children whose villages and towns were inundated by the 2010 floods. They lost their homes and schools, and their families had to flee their native tons to take shelter in nearby safer places.
Life in the relief camps and temporary plastic shelters was hard with scarce food, and a lack of clean drinking water and essential medical care.
Shahadad Kot district of Sindh is one the places that saw massive destruction and damage to infrastructure.
When water reached Zahida’s village Qubo Saeed Khan, her older brother, a daily wage worker, quickly packed some belongings. He younger brother carried their bed ridden ailing mother and the whole family left on foot towards a nearby village.
"People were shouting and screaming. My mother asked my brother to leave her behind as she thought carrying her would slow us down. This was the most traumatic moment of my life."
Wading through water, it took them almost 2 hours to finally reach their uncle’s house, where they stayed for over a month.
"My uncle treated us with kindness but his one room house was too small to accommodate all of us. My mother used to cough all night and this worried me. We had no money to buy medicines and government dispensaries were all closed."
Soon ActionAid reached them with food support, clean drinking water and household items. The family also received plastic sheets which they used to convert the veranda into an additional room. Food support and other relief items also lightened financial burden on Zahida’s Uncle.
ActionAid’s local partner NGOs Development Society also set up free medical camp for flood survivors.
"We got medicine for my mother’s cough and fever and which made her feel better. We also received tooth paste and soaps and the doctor told us to wash our hands regularly to avoid diseases."
As the water receded and Zahida’s family returned to their village, ActionAid supported them in rebuilding their damaged house. As reconstruction work started in the village with government and humanitarian community’s support, Zahida’s brother found wage work which helped the family to afford basic necessities.
In the meanwhile, to support village women and girls to overcome the traumatic experience of flood devastation, and to provide educational and recreational activities to children, ActionAid established ‘women and child friendly spaces’ in the Zahida’s village. She immediately became a member.
"At the WCFS, I have received notebooks, pencils, and crayons. My teacher is very kind. She talks to us about our problems and gives us good advice. She embroiders very well and I have asked her to teach me the skill too."
"I enjoy coming here. I have many friends; we tell jokes, play with dolls and read books. I am very happy to be back home."