The day the wave came

by Judith Kühl,  2010/08/19

For more than ten days now, she has been accompanying a mission which is both a physical and a psychological challenge. Judith Kühl is witnessing individual and collective misery in Pakistan and in some cases there simply are no words appropriate for telling about incomprehensible fates. In her series “Thoughts from Pakistan” she talks about such a fate today.

It is worse than a nightmare. When the flood reaches her village “Sulai Kamar” (near Charsadda) in the middle of the night, Rose is petrified and remains standing in her bedroom. While the neighbours are already climbing the roofs in panic, in order to escape from the roaring, swirling current which is running through the village with devastating force, Rose is silently looking at her husband Sultan.

Once again, it is the children in particular who are affected by the disaster. Existentially! Photo: humedica/Simon Gelzenleuchter

He is lying in his bed as always; day and night, since he has been paralysed on one side of his body. He cannot walk and even less can he flee from the water. Helpless, Rose is looking around the room, then to her two sons. What am I to do, she is wondering desperately. The water is rising higher and higher. There is no way of fleeing fast enough with her husband and her children.

Sultan is awake. Calmly, he meets the eyes of his wife and tells her to take their sons and climb the roof of the mosque as fast as possible. This is the highest and therefore the safest place in the vicinity. Rose is suspecting what her husband is asking of her. She is to leave him behind and safe the live of their children.

A heartbreaking command and at the same time the last will of her husband. The water is rising ever higher and Rose is still standing there motionlessly. Her body feels numb, incapable of acting. Her husband’s voice is getting louder: “Leave me behind! Save yourselves! Quick!”

For a last time Rose looks into Sultan’s eyes, then she takes her boys by their hands. Sobbing, she runs out of the house and climbs the roof of the mosque. Thoughts are swirling around in her mind and still she is unable to order them. Did she abandon her husband? She grasps her sons’ hands more tightly, concentrates her thoughts only on them; that they must survive.

On the roof of the mosque they are safe. Below them, the water is flooding everything and eventually it covers cars and many houses. All the people’s possessions are carried away by the merciless current.

Rose cannot take in what she is seeing. But the nightmare is not over yet. After a short time she is forced to watch Sultan lying in his bed, holding on to the bed-frame with all his strengths, being carried away by the water. This is the last she sees of him. A horrible scene. She wants to do something, but he is beyond any help. He drowns in the flood.

Rose with one of her sons: no individual case. Photo: humedica/Simon Gelzenleuchter

Her eyes are mirroring the mourning of her heart. Again she is facing the question what she is to do now. Although the water has receded, her village is uninhabitable, her house is destroyed and all her property lost. How will the family deal with the loss of their father? Many questions. No answers.

For the next few weeks, Rose and her children can stay at a school in the next village. There they are provided with a meal once a day. There also is drinking water. But the family is not well. Besides suffering from the generally miserable situation, Rose is above all mourning for her husband, the father of her children.

Simon Gelzenleuchter, our coordinator, met Rose at our mobile hospital, which is located on the school grounds. She came with her boys and asked for medical treatment. We sincerely hope that Rose and her boys will not only recover with regard to their health, but that they will find a way in an undefined future and have enough strength to overcome their grief.

Dear friends of humedica of our work: our mission team members listen to the stories of such fates with tears in their eyes. They cannot do anything to relieve people from this sorrow, but nevertheless, there are uncountable ways of helping them concretely and sustainably every day. Please support this valuable work of our medical team in the flood region.

You can send a text message containing the reference DOC to +49 8 11 90 and contribute a donation of 5 euros, with 4.83 euros of this amount being directly channelled into our project work. Please also donate for the flood victims in Pakistan via our online form, or choose the traditional way of supporting us by transferring your donation to the account below:
      humedica e.V.
      Donation reference "Flood relief Pakistan"
      Account 47 47
      Bank Code 734 500 00
      Sparkasse Kaufbeuren

Thank you very much!

Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly.

Update my browser now×