Faroza is a member of the hygiene committee of the village. Credit: Jane Beesley
"The children are still afraid of the water – it’s like they have a phobia."

Pakistan floods: Return to the village

“When we first came back there was still a lot of mud and water around – up to the top of our legs. There were lots of snakes, mosquitoes and dead animals.”

Sixty-four households have now returned to the village of Dildarsipar in Jacobabad District, where Oxfam is working with YAP (Youth Action for Pakistan), a local organization. Hygiene kits have already been distributed and hygiene committees have been formed. In the shade a group of women talk about their situation. Below Faroza, a member of the hygiene committee, sums up their story.

Escaping the flood

"We heard that there were floods and that water was coming but we were hoping that the water wouldn’t be coming here – but it came. It came at night when we were sleeping. All we could do was take our children and some of our animals and head to the road. When we were escaping the flood we had no vehicle here so we had to walk for 5 or 7 hours in the heavy rain.

"We stayed there for 2 months and 14 days. People were living on the road, in government camps and camps run by other organizations. In the camps people had latrines, and some food but not enough. As women we faced a lot of problems… we had no sanitary clothes or pads.

Returning home

"We came back last month – about 4 weeks ago. When we first came back there was still a lot of mud and water around – up to the top of our legs. There were lots of snakes, mosquitoes and dead animals. It was terrible. We felt like it was doomsday… everyone thought they were going to die. Our children were crying because our homes and everything had been destroyed.

"Before the flood we had a home but now we are living in tents. Our animals – our buffalos and cows – died in the flood. We could take so little with us and now our condition is very bad. Now the cold is blowing through the village and the mosquitoes are biting during the nighttime. Before our water system was in good condition… now our water is salty. But we are thankful to God for saving our children and saving our lives and ‘Inshallah’ we can make something of our future.

"The children are still afraid of the water – it’s like they have a phobia. And now our children are very afraid of walking on the ground at night because of the snakes.

Hygiene kits

"Within one week of returning here we received the hygiene kits. They contain sanitary cloth, 2 towels, 15 soaps for personal bathing, 2 soaps for dishwashing and 6 soaps for washing clothes, a cooler and a bucket.

"The most useful item has been the soap for personal washing and for washing clothes because our clothes were very dirty, our children were very dirty and we didn’t have any money to buy these things. Before we got these kits we were so muddy we looked like sweepers because we were always dirty, dirty, dirty. Now we have soap for hand washing, personal washing and for washing babies. We use another soap for washing pots and pans and soap for washing clothes – and we had a huge amount of dirty clothes. So we were very happy when we got these kits because we felt so much better and happy when we were clean, our babies were clean and our clothes were clean. Before we got these items, especially the soap, we were praying that someone would come and give us them.

"The soap is also helping to prevent skin diseases and rashes, and other diseases like diarrhea. My baby had diarrhea but after we had these kits I could keep my baby clean and now the diarrhea has stopped.

Hygiene training

"We’ve learnt that it’s best for mothers to breastfeed their babies, that we should wash our hands after we’ve used the latrine, after cleaning babies, after handling animals, before a meal and before cooking.

"I’m a member of the women’s hygiene committee. There are seven of us. It’s our responsibility to tell others about good hygiene, to stop open defecation and to encourage people to keep the area clean."

This program has been made possible by funds from the UK Department for International Development, which is ensuring the WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene promotion) needs of 315,000 people (45,000 families) in upper Sindh, are being met.

Read more

Watch the slideshow: Preparing winter kits for flood survivors

Oxfam's humanitarian response to the Pakistan floods

Permalink: http://oxf.am/Z57