By Waheed Agha and Donna Fernandes*
Mashkel, Balochistan Province, Pakistan: Rukeya is a home-based ladies’ tailor whose work was affected by the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck along the Pakistan-Iran Border in April 2013. Rukeya’s life changed as she saw her business decline. She said, “Our entire life has changed, and nothing is as per schedule. Before the earthquake I had many tailoring orders. Since then, people have different problems, and there are no requests for orders.”
Rukeya supports her four-member family. She is now left with a damaged home, financial worries, and uncertainty about the coming winter months and her business. She shared that their wells were damaged during the earthquake, and the family no longer has access to clean drinking water.
Rukeya’s family is also coping with health issues. The limited assistance from other sources includes a tent and some kitchen crockery.
Razai, like Rukeya, lost his poultry business because of the earthquake. Razai worries about medical treatment for his wife. Razai’s home and shop were destroyed and more than 100 chickens died. With no children, Razai fears the challenges he has to cope with in taking care of his wife and rebuilding his home.
In Mashkel, where Rukeya, Razai, and their families reside, life before the earthquake was extremely difficult. The town of mud houses is located a short distance from the Iranian border. The main income comes from the date trees that cover the landscape. This extremely poverty-stricken, remote area is difficult to access, which means few relief efforts were made.
Church World Service – Pakistan/Afghanistan (CWS-P/A), with the financial assistance of the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), provided food assistance to 260 affected households. The distribution efforts involved many hardships in reaching Mashkel, and staff accessed the area from the town of Nok Kundi. CWS-P/A staff at the distribution shared, “The deserted area had no proper road to follow which made accessibility tough.”
The food packages, which were designed following Sphere standards and suitable to local dietary preferences, contained wheat flour, rice, oil, pulses, sugar, tea leaves, iodized salt, and match boxes.
Razai said this is the first time he had received any form of assistance, but it was reassuring to know that he did not have to take out a loan or return payment of any kind. Rukeya shared that the assistance is of significant help to her family; it meets their food consumption requirements for a month.
With time, Razai and Rukeya hope to restore their businesses so they can support their families. However, they are uncertain about how this will happen after so much loss during the earthquake. They worry about their families and their future, but they are grateful for the food packages. For one month, at least, Razai and Rukeya are relieved of their daily struggle to feed their families, and they hold on to a little hope for a restored future.
*Waheed Agha and Donna Fernandes work with UMCOR partner Church World Service – Pakistan/Afghanistan.
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