Rabia Ajaib in Pakistan
“I will decorate my house,” says Fatima sitting beside a mud stove in the midst of a big courtyard, with the sun blazing down overhead. Her house in the Thatta district of the southern province of Sindh was completely destroyed during the super floods that raced across Pakistan in 2010. She has been living with a relative since then – almost a year now.
Fatima is no stranger to hardship. Her husband’s death years ago left her to raise four young children on her own, two of her sons are mentally challenged. But the floods proved to be the last straw. She lost everything: her shelter, her belongings; she was left pennyless.
In the days following the floods, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) provided her with food. But now her only source of income comes from her son, Muhammad Aslam, who does hard labour in a nearby town, earning a few rupees to support the whole family. They could not build a house of their own on such a meagre income, and living at a relative’s house for such a long time is proving increasingly difficult, adding stress to everyone involved. “It is very difficult for me to live at a relative’s house with a young daughter and two mentally challenged sons,” says Fatima. “I wish I could have my own house.”
That wish is now being fulfilled by the Pakistan Red Crescent Society (PRCS). Volunteers on the shelter team have identified Fatima’s family as one of the six most vulnerable families in this particular village. As such, under a Red Cross Red Crescent pilot project, she will receive a tool kit and cash grant to build a new home.
Under this pilot project, PRCS and IFRC are also providing technical support, to train people how to build the houses. One sample shelter is being constructed in each village. Fatima’s shelter has been constructed as a sample.
Mr. Shafqat, PRCS shelter manager for Sindh province, says: “After the sample shelters are finished they are very happy with the design because they will minimize the risk during flooding. They are designed on the principles of disaster risk reduction, and are built on higher ground.”
Fatima is very excited to see her shelter being constructed. While inspecting its progress she excitedly tells her daughter, “As we complete the mud work on our walls, we will place our bed in this corner of the room, and our trunk and other utensils on the other side.” She then turns to staff from the Red Cross Red Crescent and with pride talks about how she will once again live in her own house. “I will now be able to look after my children like I did before the floods. Above all, I will not be dependent on others, and for that I am very grateful.”