ZIARIATABAD VILLAGE, DISTRICT SHANGLA, PAKISTAN: Anwer Saeed works in an electronics store to support his forty year old mother, Pashima, and two younger brothers. His father passed away more than ten years ago in a car accident. However, that was not the only loss for the family. The 2005 earthquake brought down the family’s house in Kohistan. The family once again faced great loss as devastating floodwaters washed away the boundary walls, two bedrooms, and kitchen.
“We received a compensatory cheque from the government for the loss of our house during the earthquake. Together with some borrowed money from relatives we were able to construct this house,” says Anwer. Pointing to the dried brown zigzag lines on the wall he said, “The waters filled our house; after the waters receded, we came back from staying with relatives and cleared out the mud.”
Anwer’s house is situated along the Hunza River; nine houses in the village have been damaged by the floods. These families received food packages from CWS-P/A and Anwer shares, “The food packages are good and will last us for up to two months. We cook in our neighbor’s kitchen and use their utensils. All of our utensils have been taken away by the floods.”
Anwer would like the bedrooms back and there is no doubt that his mother wants her kitchen as well. “My youngest brother sleeps inside near my mother but my other brother and I need our rooms,” says Anwer. “We did not have much time to leave with our things. In fact we saw people moving from nearby houses and quickly decided to move.”
At the age of twenty-three and with much responsibility on his shoulders, Anwer plays the role of not just an eldest brother but also the bread earner of the family. “I earn an income of Rupees 4,000 per month (US $ 47.1) and it is not easy to rebuild what we have lost. The coming of winter is another worry. It gets really cold here, and my immediate concern is to get boundary walls constructed to protect us from the winter winds.”
His younger brother works irregularly and together they bring home an average of Rupees 6,000 per month (US $ 71). With the rising cost of living and persistently high inflation rates in Pakistan, Anwer and his family face an extremely difficult phase in their lives once again. “Our clothes were ruined; most of them have gone along with the waters so we need to get ready for the coming of winter.”