Pakistan: A girl's story in a Thatta flood camp
Ten-year-old Zaafira and her family are among thousands of people forced from their homes by the floods and sheltering in a Plan-supported camp in Thatta, Pakistan.
Plan’s Dena Allen reports.
“I don’t want to be here, in this place,” says 10-year-old Zaafira*, standing in the dusty and crowded camp.
Her friends crowd around her, inquisitive and giggling, eager to see the visitors that break up some of the monotony of camp life. “I want to go home, and to go back to school. It’s boring and dirty here.”
Plan assisting flood victims
Plan is supporting Zaafira and 190 families in this particular camp with food, water, shelter and pit latrines. Staff and local volunteers are also running health and hygiene sessions to prevent disease and illness in the camp.
In Thatta district, more than 800 square miles of land has flooded in recent days – displacing over half a million more people. Plan is supporting 32,000 people scattered across the Makli area in 7 established camps, as well as people living in makeshift shelters on the roadside or in open fields.
The camps are cramped with families side-by-side. Wooden poles and ropes hold up makeshift dwellings - the smoke from cooking fires and dust is everywhere.
Zaafira and her parents, 2 younger brothers and grandmother have been in this camp for 4 days. On hearing warnings that the Indus River floods were headed their way, the family frantically packed up and headed for higher ground.
“We didn’t have enough money for a car or bus,” says Zaafira’s father Hanif*. “But we rented a donkey cart and took whatever supplies we could - some bedding, some food, and cooking utensils. It took us 5 hours to reach this place but we feel safer here.”
Zaafira’s mother Janat* bounces her youngest infant son on her hip. “We were very frightened when we were making our way here. We could see the water all around. The children were obviously distressed.
“My main worry right now is the children,” she says. “It’s hard to keep them clean and in good health here. There are insects and very little water.”
Waiting to go home
“I have some friends here,” says Zaafira. “We play games around the camp or help our parents with the chores. My family was able to bring our animals with us, thank God, so we try to find food for them too. But I’d rather be at home.”
When Zaafira and her family will be able to return home is uncertain. Flood waters could take weeks, even months in some areas, to recede.
“Honestly, I thank God we are in this camp,” says Hanif. “If we had to be out there, on the road or in the fields, with no food or water or anything, I just don’t know how we’d survive.”
In addition to Thatta, Plan relief teams are operating in Khairpur and Ghotki in Sindh province, and Layyah, Muzaffargarh and Rajanpur in Punjab province.
Donate to help support children and families affected by flooding in Pakistan today.
*Names have been changed in this story