Disaster with a happy and – New house for family of 10 persons

by Waqar Sherazi, Ruth Bücker,  2011/07/01

Homeless, unemployed, without a basis of existence for himself and his nine family members; completely destitute – the fate of Inayat Ullah and his family can be described with a few tragic words. The misery of the 41-year old driver and farmer began in a tragic way last August, when large flood waves hit his village not only once, but twice. How did he fare? We will tell you Inayat Ullah’s story.

“Inayat Ullah lives in the village of Mubarik Shah, in D. I. Khan District in the northwest of Pakistan. Before the floods of 2010 destroyed his village, which back then counted 300 houses, he was a driver and he had been so for 17 years.

Inayat Ullah and his children in front of the tent they lived in before they received support by ARO and humedica. Photo: humedica/ARO Pakistan

He got up early in the morning and drove a distance of 24 kilometres to the market in order to sell harvested crops. He did so for his landlord and received a wage of 1.45 euros per day. In addition, Inayat owned some goats that provided milk for him and his family.

Together with his wife, seven children and his 69-year old father, Inayat lived of his wages as a driver and of his own few crops and livestock. Besides doing the housework, his wife helped with planting and harvesting the fields of the landlord. His father had not been able to support the family for a long time, since his eyesight was bad and he was only able to distinguish shadows and outlines at the most.

Already during the first nine years of their marriage, Inayat and his wife had seven children, always hoping that the next child would be a son, since sons could work harder and were considered a larger blessing by the society than a newborn baby girl. Now the married couple raises five girls and two boys.

In this way the family of ten lead their every-day life contently and fulfilled their daily routines and tasks in their clay house with two rooms for sleeping, cooking and living. Inayat did his work and provided for his family, the older children went to school. Until August 26, 2011.

It was about half past three o’clock in the morning when the inhabitants of the village of Mubarik Shah were abruptly roused from their sleep by a voice sounding from the loudspeakers of the local mosque. The nightly announcement warned them of heavy floods that were approaching the village from the Solomon & Darazinda mountain range in the west.

Several millions of people were left homeless by the millennium flood and a majority of them is still living in tents. Photo: humedica/Toni Großhauser

Rainwater that falls in the mountain range accumulates to minor rivers that flow into Indus River. But now the minor rivers’ volume capacity of 480,000 litres was met by water masses of almost 6.8 million litres.

According to the voice on the loudspeakers, the flood wave had already destroyed villages on higher ground and all the village’s inhabitants were asked to leave their houses immediately. Hence, the entire village was evacuated within less than 30 minutes. Apart from two men who doubted the danger posed by a flood and who were killed by waves of a height of up to three metres, and 700 drowned cows, all the inhabitants of Inayat’s home village survived.

When after three days the water had finally seeped away or flown on, some of my neighbours and I decided to return to our village in order to assess the situation and to decide if all the families could return”, reported the family father Inayat.

The road I had used to take to get to the market every day was destroyed. Mud piled up everywhere to a height of one metre, the rice fields were nothing more than pits of slush. The smell of dead animals made breathing almost impossible. One of my neighbours found the lifeless body of only 23-year old Shakeel in the scrub, his clothes were torn. We never found the body of the other inhabitant of our village.

If I hadn’t recognised the uprooted tree that had always offered my family some shade in our garden I couldn’t have found the location of our now completely demolished home. There were no signs of my goats and the wagon I had used to feed them was completely destroyed because it had crashed with a car.

Cooperation that changes lives in a sustainable way: humedica and ARO Pakistan. Photo: humedica/Toni Großhauser

Simply everything was lost, everything was broken. My neighbours and I were so shocked that we weren’t event able to cry. Never in my life have I seen a damage like this caused by water.”

Inayat and the other inhabitants of the village decided to return with their families one week later. But these plans could not be realised, either. “Two days later the village was hit by another flood wave. And hence, more than two more weeks passed before we returned to the village.

Also Inayat’s landlord and employer had made substantial losses: the imminent rice harvest and the fruit and vegetables that had so far been planted were destroyed. In order to compensate for his losses and to change his fate, the landlord sold his car – and with it Inayat’s working tool, which left the father of seven children without employment.

We received food from inhabitants of surrounding towns that had not been affected by the flood and by relief organisations such as ARO Pakistan which also provided us with further relief goods. And we lived in a tent. At day it was unbearably hot and at night we didn’t all fit into the emergency shelter.

Together humedica and ARO Pakistan committed themselves to reconstruction projects also in the region where Inayat’s village had once been. This work often involved safety risks in particular in the D. I. Khan District, but these were constantly assessed and followed up by our local partner and therefore the victims of the flood did not suffer disadvantages.

Meanwhile, Inayat and his family live in a more robust house made of stone that has been rebuilt by humedica and ARO Pakistan. This house will resist also potential floods in the future. In order to help the family father to become independent once more in the long term, ARO Pakistan found him a new employment.

Inayat in front of his newly built house. Photo: humedica/ARO Pakistan

Furthermore, the support enabled Inayat to buy two new goats and from the wages of his new job he intends to buy more goats and a cow – until his landlord will be able to employ him once more – probably after a few months time.

Dear friends and sponsors, thanks to the German Federal Foreign Office, and in particular thanks to your support, Inayat and his family now live in a safe house and Inayat has a new job. Thanks to you, his life slowly returns to normality, which Inayat can hardly express in words and which he is deeply grateful for.

Please continue supporting us. Thank you very much!
             humedica e.V.
             Donation reference "Flood relief Pakistan"
             Account 47 47
             Bank Code 734 500 00
             Sparkasse Kaufbeuren

You can also support us in a secure, fast and direct way by means of sending a text message: send a message containing the reference DOC to +49 8 11 90. You will make a donation of 5 euros, with 4.83 euros of this amount being directly channelled into the humedica project work.

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