Naseem is only 35 years old, but her face shows the strain of someone much older.
Born to poor parents, she has been living in poverty for most of her life. Not long ago, though, she was happy. She was married, and lived in a stable brick house with her hardworking husband and children in southern Pakistan. For a time she lived comfortably, experiencing the delights and challenges of motherhood while her husband earned a valuable income.
But late last year, everything changed. Her young husband left the house one morning and never came back. He had died in a road accident on his way to work.
Suddenly, Naseem was a widow. At the time, she was six months pregnant. In an instant she found herself destitute, completely dependent on the charity of others in her village.,in the Punjab province.
Her seventh child was born six months ago. The joy of his birth was overshadowed by the loss of her husband and the burden of another hungry mouth to feed, without any source of income. Since then, Naseem has been living day-to-day, struggling through each one trying to provide for her family as best she can.
When the floods came to the Punjab province on 13 August, she and her children were sleeping. Towering waves of over 12 feet crashed into the village. Flooding had immersed many areas in the north earlier in the month. The flood waters had finally reached the south. Coupled with new rains, water engulfed southern Pakistan.
“We were asleep when the waters came,” she said. “The house was razed to the ground in seconds and soon successive waves even washed away the debris. I ran to a high mound nearby with the children, from which army boats rescued us in the morning. We had nothing on us save for the clothes we were wearing.”
Naseem’s hardship is unimaginable. Yet she is quick to point out that many others are suffering just as much.
“I am not the only one facing this disaster. The whole village and the entire area is in the same situation. We have all been living on the side of the road and surviving on relief supplies,” she says.
Devastatingly, Naseem is right. Millions in Punjab, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) provinces have lost homes and livelihoods.
It is estimated that 3.2 million hectares of crops have been destroyed. Food prices have doubled and even quadrupled in local markets, exacerbating the miserable conditions for families, many of whom were already food-insecure before the floods.
World Vision has provided food, emergency items and health care to more than 30,000 people in Khyber Paktunkhwa since the start of the floods.
Some 4,100 people have been treated at World Vision’s three emergency medical clinics established in Lower Dir, Khyber Paktunkhwa province.
Food distributions will continue, reaching a further 86,000 people from 1 September, and distribution of non-food items will be scaled up in Sindh, Punjab and KPK.
The need in Pakistan is immense, and survivors are suffering.
“I have nothing left to me in this world,” says Naseem. “I am totally dependent upon the charity of generous souls sending us relief supplies.”
As World Vision staff work amidst appalling conditions, delivering aid to those like Naseem who need it most, we are calling on all generous souls in Australia to give whatever they can. To donate to our Pakistan floods appeal, click here.