Young mother in Pakistan recalls evacuation from home
Teenage mother Aqeela* and her baby daughter are one of the tens of thousands of people seeking relief from the floods in Pakistan’s sprawling makeshift camps.
Aqeela, herself 14 years old, and baby Farah, were forced to flee their home in the district of Muzaffargarh in southern Punjab.
“In the middle of the night, we heard an announcement from the loud speaker of the nearby mosque about flood waters approaching fast and urging people to vacate the area immediately to save lives,” said Aqeela, gently rocking her crying two month-old girl.
“We ran in the dark taking only the set of clothes we were wearing, leaving all belongings behind to the mercy of the monstrous river - it used to be our lifeline.
“We were running and there were roars of gushing waters behind us and screams of women and children. It was very frightening. I was holding my sleeping baby in my arms and with all the women folk of our village heading towards the road. Some of our men stayed behind to guard the houses.
“We finally reached a high embankment and stayed there for the night. No one slept. In the morning we saw water all around us and our mud houses were completely destroyed. We could see some of our men on top of the brick houses which survived and some were clinging onto the trees.”
Like many families, she said they do not know where all the men of their families are now.
“We have learnt that our houses are gone, crops are under water, we are destitute,” she said.
She is receiving food at the Plan-supported camp, one of some 140,000 people currently being helped with such aid, including special rations for young children.
Babies are particualry vulnerable and both they and their mothers are at risk of waterborne diseases, skin infections and malnutrition in the overcrowded camps.
Plan has been supplying thousands of hygiene kits to families and raising awareness of the need to stay healthy in the camps where there is a chronic shortage of medics and doctors.
Donate to help Plan support children and families affected by the Pakistan floods.
* All names have been changed for Child Protection purposes.