By Kamran Chaudhry
On August 3, Zakaullah broke his right leg while fleeing from his house as floodwaters rose.
“It was midnight. The rangers had raised the alarm that the water from Indus River would enter our village any moment but we kept hoping otherwise”, he said “I slipped in panic and broke my right leg on the spot”.
Zakaullah was rushed to Fazalpur, a city about 8 kilometres from his home, where he was treated and now he walks with a help of a zimmer frame.
He was one of the 900 beneficiaries at a Caritas distribution in Basti Lashari, a village in Rajan Pur district.
But Basti Lashari was chosen for another reason, says the medical social worker who assisted Caritas team. “More than one disabled children in a single family is common here. The peasant women are usually on bare feet and do not use gloves to protect their hands during the spraying of crops in the fields where they work, even during pregnancy. The infected water is making babies born deaf and dumb,” said Shazia Anwar of DHQ Hospital Rajanpur.
Bishop Andrew Francis of Multan, who oversaw the Caritas distribution, inquired with the medical officers about the ways to treat the disabled flood victims. “Bring in the specialists if needed. We shall soon return with a medical camp,” he said.
Zakaullah and the group of disabled people were handed over tents, bags of wheat and utensils separately. They were assembled on charpoys (a type of bed) near trucks on the road covered on both sides by bedsteds; mud stained steel trunks and piles of broken household.
Bishop Francis blessed and prayed for the special flood victims as he handed over the relief items. The Muslim mothers also brought water to be blessed by the prelate.
Asmatullah and his 12year old sister, Saima Bibi, are also among those helped with Caritas relief items. The siblings lost their right hands in a chaff cutter.
“I was injured 10 years ago and she was amputated three years ago. Still we keep the machine which is our livelihood”, described Asmatullah, 18. He added “I managed to pull two charpoys but still half of my family members used to sleep on the bare ground. Babies cry all night as it becomes very cold. The tent will help us sleeping with some comfort.”