Khalid Khan gets up every morning to search his waterlogged mud house.
“Except a few utensils, everything is buried in heaps of mud”, said Khan, who now lives in a tent village located a few meters away from his former home. His tent is amidst a boundary of charpoys covered by worn out bed sheets. Inside lie a few water bottles in one corner of a rug while above hangs a bag of medicine.
Khan’s family is one of the 220 others living along grand trunk road side in Risalpur, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Ummah Welfare Trust, a Muslim NGO, settled the tent village early August after the nearby Indus and Kabul Rivers first inundated the Northern Province .
The flood waters are now receding in areas of Kot Addu, Punjab province.
The local unit of Caritas Pakistan Rawalpindi Islamabad diocese organised 7 September a distribution at the site along with the collaboration of the Ummah Welfare Trust. The team distributed hygiene kits, bedding and utensils among 260 families, most of them tent residents.
Khan, father of three, is one of the beneficiaries. He now plans to use his new water cooler to put ice blocks. “Heat is a major problem. It is hard to sleep at night without electricity and amid mosquitoes”, replied the jobless farm labourer. “We hope to return to our homes soon”.
The desperation for income prompted Fazal Amin, another tent resident, to seek a living in Afghanistan. Amin, a mason, returned a few days ago to celebrate Eid, a Muslim holiday that marks the end of Ramadan, with his family also living in the tent village.
“There was no hiring there either due to ongoing fasting season”, said Amin, as he thanked Caritas Pakistan for the new mattress and utensils to help the couple start a new life. “Everybody provides food but we needed these basic items. We pray for those who sent us help,” he added.
Caritas Pakistan also distributed relief items among 110 families living on a hill in Kandar village, one km away from Risalpur.
“It is very difficult to distribute aid among the desperate locals without the help of Muslim organisations. The government has already declared these areas very sensitive due to security situation’, said John Joseph, diocesan executive secretary, overseeing the aid distribution.
‘There are language and cultural barriers with local Pashtun communities who strictly observe purdah, a system of gender segregation. Many deserving families refuse to come forward and have shifted from camps to villages,” he added.