Stories of survival in Pakistan: Floodwaters disperse families

Royan Bibi, a 50-year-old woman from Dubair Nala, located in Shangla, lost everything when destructive floodwaters washed away her house and 13 others at the end of July. She is now living with her 35-year-old daughter Gulbha and her family on the opposite side of the Hunza River.

Royan Bibi and her grandnson
Royan Bibi sits with her grandson.
Photo: Donna Fernandes/CWS

See also video Pakistan floods: Inside the CWS response

By Donna Fernandes/CWS

SHANGLA, PAKISTAN -- Royan Bibi, a 50-year-old woman from Dubair Nala, located in Shangla, lost everything when destructive floodwaters washed away her house and 13 others at the end of July. She is now living with her 35-year-old daughter Gulbha and her family on the opposite side of the Hunza River.

“We are a big family. I have my four daughters-in-law living with me and owned a six-room house. Now my daughters-in-law have all left to live with their parents,” says Royan Bibi. “My family plans to rent a house in either Battagram or Mansehra, which will be expensive.”

Royan Bibi and her family members have received medical assistance from the CWS mobile health unit operating in Shangla. Her daughter has volunteered a room in her house for women’s medical treatment through the mobile health unit. Women from surrounding villages come and gather at Gulbha’s house to get medical assistance from the female healthworker.

“My husband is old and cannot work. These days he has an eye infection. We depend on the money that my sons earn from doing skilled labor including masonry and plumbing. The rent in the city will be as much as 6,000 Rupees ($71) and will be difficult to pay,” says Royan Bibi.

Not a single day passes without her thinking about her house and the fact that the floods have caused her family to disperse. “I tell her not to worry--what has happened cannot be changed,” says Gulbha. “My mother is not totally comfortable living in my house and wants a place of her own.”

Royan Bibi’s son-in-law, Waleed Khan, says, “We offered our house for female mobile health services because we understand that people have many problems. Most common are skin and eye infections among both adults and children. My house is not big enough to accommodate my wife’s entire family. Almost all the 14 houses in Dubair colony that were destroyed by the floods had many rooms.”
    
There are currently millions of people who remain without shelter and other basic necessities. Many worry about changing temperatures, rising food prices and joblessness, and have health concerns. Through CWS’s flood response, affected communities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan and Sindh are assisted through food packages, non-food items, and medical care. The organization is planning for early recovery measure to help communities rebuild and to restore normalcy. Plans include community organizing, building trades training and support for livelihood recovery.

How to help

Contributions to support the emergency needs in Pakistan may be made online or by phone (800.297.1516), or may be sent to your denomination or to Church World Service, P.O. Box 968, Elkhart, IN 46515, Attention: Pakistan floods. 

ACT Alliance  Church World Service is a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of churches and agencies engaged in development, humanitarian assistance and advocacy.

Media Contact:
Lesley Crosson, 212-870-2676, lcrosson@churchworldservice.org
Jan Dragin, 781-925-1526, jdragin@gis.net


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