Bringing help to Nowshera
Cesvi and Welthungerhilfe, a partner in Alliance 2015, have distributed food in the district of Nowshera, one of the most damaged areas hit by the floods. Here is the testimony of Giacomo Agosti, Cesvi Emergency Coordinator.
"The road going from Islamabad to Nowshera is clear. The first signs of the floods appear in Attack, a town 70 Km away from Islamabad. From here onwards I can only see swamped fields, with houses and trees emerging from the water.
After a two and an half hour trip we reach Nowshera, where we distribute food and water to the people hit by the floods.
First of all we go to the district coordination office, where families gather looking for support and information from the local authorities. We draw the attention of some of them, who get close to us. The district coordinator tells us how difficult it is to fulfill the population’s basic needs, like drinking water, food, temporary accommodation, sanitary kits and other indispensable articles. We finish dealing with the procedures and head for the area where we will soon start the food distribution.
A police officer comes with us while the women, for security reasons, are asked to stay in a safe place during the activities. The car thermometer measures 35 degrees.
The area where we distribute food has been devastated by the floods: many houses are completely ruined and the streets are covered in debris, with mud and waste brought by the water. We hardly manage to walk through the narrow and crowded alleys in one of the poorest neighbourhoods, while the air gets mixed with the humidity left by the flood and the crowd together.
People lack everything, food, water, shelter, sanitary items, but they have the strength to help us carry the heavy flour sacks and the rest of the food to one of the village leaders’ backyard, where we can start the distribution. While we keep carrying the food an old man takes me along the alleys covered in debris, so that I can see with my own eyes the intensity and impact of the devastation. People sneak a look from the remains of their houses - they invite me to come in with great dignity. Many houses are completely destroyed, with only a door frame to show piles of wood, rags and mud. Some walls made of mud and stone are still standing and the mark left by the water on them is one meter high. Despite the discretion typical of the Muslim religion, an old man shows me what is left of his own bedroom, where the remnants of a wooden bed mingle with the debris and a few toys of his grandchildren.
I go back to the backyard where we are ready to start the distribution, together with my guide, one of the village leaders, with whom we have cooperated since the first days we arrived. Diana, our reporting officer, is taken to a house further off the backyard where we are, where she will stay with other women during the operating procedure.
The selected heads of the families are let in, in small groups, accompanied by some assistants. They leave their fingerprint next to their name on the list. The white and charismatic presence of Hussein - our Pakistan officer for the recordings-, immediately gains the respect and attention of everyone there, including the television crew of one of the main German channels. The beneficiaries place the packages with dates, lentils, beans, tea, salt and sugar in their wide ‘kameez’ –tunics typical of the Pakistani outfits-; otherwise they carry them on their heads. The cans of oil and water, together with the flour sacks, are carried outside the backyard by other family members and our local staff.
Towards the end some people who were not in the list manage to get in and the tension rises because rations are not enough for everybody. Our supplies and priorities force us to first support the families most in need. We manage anyway to keep the situation under control, and the respect and safety our staff are never undermined until we finally finish our job.
It all takes us over three hours, at the end of which we have managed to give basic food supplies to more than 700 people, enough for at least the next three weeks. In many areas of the country, including this community, many people will still be in need of humanitarian aid for the following months."