For Displaced Pakistanis, a Positive Way Forward

Two lives, two tragedies – one clear message of hope
Ibrahim Bibi with the goat he and his grandmother picked out

One is a 65-year-old woman, displaced by severe floods in 2010. The other is a 60-year-old man, a farmer forced from his fields and his home when the government’s clashes with regional insurgents intensified. They hail from different villages in Pakistan’s northern Nowshera District, and are unlikely to ever meet. But what they do share are compelling stories of human resilience in overcoming tremendous adversity to move forward positively with their lives—all with support from Action Against Hunger. These are their stories.

For Mehtaba Bibi, the goat that keeps on giving

Life was already challenging for 65-year-old Mehtaba Bibi when her tidy two-room house in Kandar village fell prey to the disastrous floods in 2010. Her entire family depended on the income of one son, as a second son is mentally disabled. Her three daughters are culturally restricted from working outside the home, a significant burden since two of them are widows. Her family was among the most vulnerable in their village, located near a large tributary of the Kabul River.

When the floods came, all of her family’s belongings were washed away and the damage to her home was so severe that family members were forced to share a single room in their partially damaged home while others moved into a tent. “It was an extremely difficult time for me,” Mehtaba said. “I wasn’t able to take care of and protect my family.”

With little money to repair her home or feed her family, her situation was desperate. Luckily, her prospects changed dramatically when Action Against Hunger visited Kandar village to assess conditions among the flood-affected households. Our food security teams designed a livestock support program—an ACF-sponsored goat fair in Nowshera—to help the region’s most vulnerable, and Mehtaba’s family was selected to participate. Events like this are a critical component of our food security initiatives, as they allow us to distribute animals that can dramatically improve the quality of life of their recipients—all the while supporting local markets.

Arriving at the goat fair, Mehtaba’s grandson, Ibrahim, thoroughly enjoyed the experience, taking time to look over each of the available goats and decide with his grandmother which one would be best for their family. They settled on a sturdy tan and white goat, which then received an on-site checkup and vaccinations. Happily, Mehtaba and Ibrahim headed towards home with their new goat in tow, and better life ahead.

“Our lives will be so much better now that we have this great, healthy goat. We’ll be able to sell some of her kids to reduce our financial burdens, and we’ll also drink her milk. I’ll finally have some savings to rebuild my house. I have no words to thank Action Against Hunger for their support. It came at just the right time and will make such a big difference.”

—Mehtaba Bibi, participant, livestock support program

Haji Nazeer, hygiene and clean water champion

Families displaced from Pakistan’s northern Khyber Agency District due to escalating government and insurgent clashes continue to arrive at the Jalozai camp for humanitarian assistance in Nowshera—at a rate of 3,000 a day. As of May 15th, The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) had registered some 52,839 families, 232,390 individuals, many displaced since January. Among the displaced is a 60-year-old farmer named Haji Nazeer.

Three years ago, he was making a good living and supporting his wife and children in the village of Mada Khel. It was at that point that regional clashes between government troops and insurgents intensified, complicating daily life for families caught in the middle. “I started to feel like I couldn’t trust anyone in our area,” Haji said. “Even though I’ve spent my whole life there, nothing was the same. I couldn’t work, my business was destroyed. The children constantly felt threatened, and they couldn’t go to school.”

As the clashes grew evermore dangerous the government urged citizens to leave their homes and relocate to the Jalozai camp in Nowshera. It was a tough adjustment. “We had many challenges in the camp,” Haji explained. “The hygienic conditions weren’t good due to water shortages, and diseases were spreading every day.”

Frustrated, Haji met up one day with a friend, Altaf, living in a nearby section of the camp. Altaf explained that Action Against Hunger was hard at work in his section, teaching hygiene education. Altaf arranged an introduction with one of our staff members, and after investigating and confirming Haji’s concerns, we were able to expand our hygiene promotion efforts to Haji’s area.

“They taught us proper use of latrines, personal hygiene, and how we can improve hygienic conditions in our surrounding areas and daily life. People are putting these lessons into practice and are feeling healthier. I feel so inspired to keep helping others, and personally will use these lessons for the rest of my life.”

—Haji Nazeer, displaced person, Jalozai Camp, Pakistan

Haji is particularly pleased that we’ve begun educating families in his section of the camp about hand-washing, proper latrine use, and other important hygiene practices. Indeed, we’ve made a lot of headway in Jalozai. We’ve distributed 600 hygiene kits, conducted tent-to-tent hygiene sessions for individual families and group sessions for blocks of ten families, and started to deliver almost 8,000 gallons of water a day to several points within the camp. And as always, we’ll do ongoing monitoring to ensure that we can adapt and respond to changing needs. That means a lot to Haji, and to others like him.

“We’ve all adopted so many positive changes since Action Against Hunger started providing hygiene education here. Having clean water and knowing how to maintain good hygiene is so important. I am forever grateful to Action Against Hunger for their support.”

—Haji Nazeer, displaced person, Jalozai Camp, Pakistan

Tell Us What You Think

Mehtaba Bibi’s prospects were vastly improved by something as seemingly small as a new goat. Equally important, the livestock support program benefitted the broader community by tapping into local markets. What would make such assistance even more effective?

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About Elisabeth Anderson Rapport

Elisabeth Anderson Rapport, Senior Communications Officer

Elisabeth is Action Against Hunger's senior communications officer, reporting on our impact and current events around the world.