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‘This assistance has provided me some relief.’

Hafiza Bibi, a single mother of four, is receiving food assistance through Community World Service Asia in Pakistan. (CWSA photo)

April 28, 2023

By Janice Biehn

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Hafiza Bibi’s life was turned upside down during the 2022 monsoons in Pakistan. She lives in the severely affected southern part of the country, and not only saw her home crumble before her, but she also lost her husband and her daughter.

Hafiza’s husband worked as a farmer and a labourer while she stayed at home and took care of their five children. She monitored the flood waters daily and ensured the family ate their meals. Sometimes their relatives would help them with gifts of wheat or money. But Hafiza’s husband had cancer. They could barely afford his medication and he died in August, during the middle of all the heavy rains. Then in October 2022, her 21-year-old daughter suffered from a nervous breakdown, due to the trauma and stress of the floods. “It took us a whole day just to reach to the nearest hospital … She stayed in the hospital for 10 days but did not survive.”

During the 2022 monsoon season, Pakistan experienced unprecedented rains and devastating floods that caused the deaths of more than 1,700 people, and affected the lives of more than 33 million others across the country. The floods destroyed homes, roads, schools, health facilities and other critical infrastructure and severely affected livestock, crops and other sources of livelihoods. By 2023, an estimated 4.5 million people remain exposed to, or are living close to, flooded areas. People have started to return to their homes, but they are returning to challenging situations and almost zero infrastructure. PWRDF donors gave $92,113 to support people like Hafiza, whose homes were washed away.

Everything Hafiza owned disappeared in an instant. She and her four children now live in a makeshift tent outside her brother-in-law’s house in the same village, sleeping many nights on empty stomachs. “It scares me that one day [he] will ask me to leave,” she says. PWRDF allocated $105,000 to two Community World Service Asia (CWSA) responses, one of which is operating in Hafiza’s village. “We went door to door assessing flood affected people who were in dire need during our visits to the most remote villages of Khairpur district,” says Hassan, a Community Mobilizer with CWSA. Members of the village committee told them that a widow with four young children was in urgent need of money and assistance.

Hafiza has so far received three payments of 12,000 rupees each ($58 Cdn). “This assistance has provided me some relief and allowed me to put food on the table for my children,” says Hafiza. “I bought essential food items such as wheat flour, rice, sugar, tea, milk and vegetables,” but she is concerned about rising prices. “We do not know how we are going to make ends meet with no source of livelihood. I wanted to save some amount in case of emergency, but I could not. A small packet of rice costs in hundreds these days. We need opportunities to revive our livelihoods.” 

PWRDF also allocated $20,000 to a response led by the Anglican Church of Pakistan.

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For media requests please contact Communications Coordinator Janice Biehn at (416) 924-9199;366.

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