Monika Vrsanska on a field trip to Pakistan. Credit: CAFOD

by Monika Vrsanska, CAFOD programme officer for the Pakistan Emergency

On the road to the village of Parto Malik, we finally see the water. A lot of water, considering the flood was supposed to have ended a couple of months ago. The road is very dusty and we cough a lot, but the surrounding fields are still covered with water.
 

We arrive at the village. Everyone we meet wants to show us their new houses and to express their thanks to CAFOD (Caritas England and Wales)and our partner, Catholic Relief Services (A Caritas member operational in Pakistan). The two women who we speak to first show us the level of the flood by standing next to one of the three houses that weren’t washed away. The mark is well above their heads. 
 
Then we visit a shelter built with the help of donations of our supporters. The family who live here – a mother, a father and their six children – lost everything in the floods and their possessions now fit in a half empty tin chest.

The tragedy of this village is that most people didn’t evacuate on time. At first, I find it hard to understand why: surely they must have known that a huge flood was coming their way. Surely, I think, something could have been done to prevent the loss of lives, homes, documents and pictures.  

In fact, people here had talked for weeks about the floods. They’d read articles in newspapers, and listened to the news on their radios, they’d known that other places were evacuated. But a district official came just a day before the flood and told them that he thought they would be safe and that there was no need to leave. In the end, it was a miracle that most people managed to save themselves. 

Our partners provided people who returned with a shelter, and replaced some of their essential everyday items like water containers, soap, water purification tablets and cloths for filtering water.

Now we try to find out what else they need – and they try to make sure that their needs are well understood. They do so with dignity in a straightforward way. In the afternoon, the registration for the next phase of support starts. Within days, people should receive farming equipment and other necessities. 

I keep thinking of the supporters I’ve worked with from various parishes across England and Wales – organising bingo evenings, giving talks, holding concerts, raising money for our work in Pakistan. I want to let them know that people in Pakistan appreciate their help and that their contributions made a profound impact.

This artidle orginally appeared on the CAFOD blog. It has been edited by Caritas Internationalis staff