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Ghulam clutches his bag of cotton seed and knows he is holding his future. The seeds, distributed by Trócaire using money donated by the Irish public, are the key to the 22-year-old rebuilding his life following the devastating floods that struck Pakistan one year ago.
Ghulam needs a house, but to get a house he needs money; to get money, he needs a crop; to get a crop, he needs the seeds.
One year ago Ghulam could not have imagined he would be so desperate. His village, located close to Manchar Lake in the Sindh province of Pakistan, was a successful farming village.
They never had plenty but they had enough to build proper stone houses for each of the 100 families who live there. Not exactly wealth, but in a country dominated by poverty as extreme as anything you will see in Sub-Saharan Africa, stone houses and enough food to go around are markers to be proud of.
They had land and machinery and a plentiful crop almost ready for harvesting. But then the floods came and destroyed everything.
“We were very happy before the floods,” he says. “We had houses and our crops were ready for harvest. But then the floods came and we lost everything – the houses, the crops, our seeds, our equipment. We tried to take some of our possessions with us but as the floods got nearer we had to leave almost everything behind.”
Ghulam’s story is a familiar one in Pakistan, where 20 million people were left homeless after the worst natural disaster in the country’s history struck last summer.
Like 20,000 others, Ghulam escaped the floods with the help of Trócaire. He was also one of the 135,000 people who benefited from Irish donations by receiving the tents, food and equipment needed to survive for three months while they waited for the flood waters to recede.
“We lived in a tent in a camp near Hyderabad for three months,” he recalls. “It was a very tough life. There were lots and lots of people in the camp and we had to rely on donations for food. We were very happy to be able to move home, but it was very sad when we saw how badly everything had been destroyed. There was nothing left when we got home.”
Today, the community is back living in their village but it is not the village they remember. The houses are gone, replaced by tents. All they have now are memories and a determination to rebuild their lives.
With seed, fertilizer and farming equipment purchased by Trócaire using donations from the Irish public, Ghulam and his community are putting the horrors of the floods behind them and looking to the future.
“We are trying to cultivate our land again but it is difficult because we do not have the tools anymore,” says Ghulam. “Trócaire brings cotton seeds and fertiliser to us and we are very thankful for that because it is allowing us start our lives again.”
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