Sassi hails from a poor family. Her husband is a labourer. They had a small house of their own before it was destroyed by unrelenting monsoon rainfall, so she had to give birth in a cave during the flood emergency days. His name is Sumar.
Sassi, 28, is a resident of Ghazi Khan Kuhmar village, Tali, Umerkot District, Sindh Province. This year flooding in Pakistan has affected over 5.2 million people. It has destroyed over a million houses and flooded over 4.5 million acres of land. Umerkot is one of the worst flood affected districts of Sindh, Pakistan.
“I gave birth to my first born in a cave we constructed after rainfall had destroyed our home. I was not feeling well. A lot of fears were surrounding me. I had bad dreams too. I was not sure how it would happen. It grieved me to realize that I had nothing to offer to my newborn. What little we had was destroyed by rainwater. Even our food stock was lost too.
I gave birth to my first born in a cave we constructed after rainfall had destroyed our home.
Umerkot is a desert area where life is very hard. People suffer from absolute scarcity of drinking water. Underground water is either too deep to be dug out or it is too brackish to be used for any purpose. Rainfall is quite rare phenomenon of the area. Recent pattern of rainfall forebodes drastic environmental changes affecting the lives of people.
Sassi is a housekeeper. Apart from other household chores, the most difficult which had been assigned to her was of fetching drinking water from a long distance. However for a short period before she gave birth to her child, she was spared of fetching water but she used to keep doing other household chores.
Livestock rearing is the main source of livelihood and it is unfortunate that recent floods killed a major portion of livestock people were dependent on for their living. Public infrastructure including of roads, health and education is equal to nothing.
"There was no milk as our goat died in the disaster", Sassi explained. "I don’t think that my child will be happy with me because my health condition is not good enough to feed my child. Along with me, my little child is also under nourished. There was no health facility around. Elderly women of my family were there to brace up my courage."
ActionAid Pakistan has initiated initial relief response after conducting rapid need assessment of the emergency hit villages in Umerkot.
Sassi and her family has been selected by ActionAid and its local partner Sami Foundation for early flood relief project and they have been provided with food and non-food items including hygiene kit and mosquito nets.
I thank ActionAid and Sami Foundation for providing us necessary support in these critical days of our lives.
But emergency aid is limited and Sassi and her family have no way of way growing food now tht the floods have washed everything away. "We don’t know how we are going to manage food in the coming days, as there is no likelihood of having our own food stock for months in the waiting.”
Also, the situation and needs of floods affectees in Umerkot are different from other parts of the country. Apart from food and non food items, they immediately and simultaneously need house reconstruction. Public infrastructure though already scarce is badly damaged and destroyed.
Sassi does not want Sumar to suffer as she has: "I wish that my child won’t see any such disaster when he is grown up. My husband says that we will work hard to make the life of our son better than ours. We are shelter-less and are in dire of need shelter. Unclean water is causing serious diseases and I remain worried about the well-being of my child."