Zahida and her mother
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."