Afghanistan Avalanche: "How do I feed my children?"
The humanitarian situation in Afghanistan is worsening as at least 30,000 people are affected by heavy snowfalls, rains and avalanches.
While many houses have already been totally destroyed and families are in urgent need of assistance, the weather forecast indicates that more snow and rain is likely to fall over the next days. Rahmuddin* was part of a CARE-assessment team to the affected areas. In his blog he talks about the needs of the people who have been hardest hit by this disaster.
Together with my colleagues from CARE and colleagues from the Afghan Red Crescent, we travelled to the Shinwari and Siagerd Districts of Parwan Province in Central Afghanistan to assess what the biggest needs of the people affected by the horrendous rain and snow falls are. In the areas we have visited eleven people died in floods or avalanches. Most of the houses we have seen were partly or completely destroyed.
When our team reached the affected area, the road was blocked due to an avalanche and we had to walk the rest of the way. The first person I met was 55-year-old Agha Gul. He was busy trying to rescue his cattle and belongings from the ruins of his collapsed house. Unfortunately, there was nothing left that could be rescued. I saw how he and others carried out three dead sheep from the ruins of the stable. His children were crying, because they had raised them for years. It was a really a very sad moment. Agha Gul’s hands and clothes were dirty and muddy. He was very tired and sad. I could clearly see the sorrow in his face. He told me: “It was the darkest and most horrible night of my life. The snow was falling and it was very windy. After we finished eating our dinner at night the situation was getting worse with every minute that passed. We could hear how the mud was falling from the walls. My wife, my eight children and I left the house and went to our neighbor’s house which is made out of concrete. I was really afraid that something might happen to my family. I went back to our house to rescue my cattle. But it was too late. The house collapsed and we lost everything we owned. Thanks to God my family is safe.”
Like Agha Gul’s neighbor, everybody is doing their best to help each other and give shelters to those who have lost their houses. They are getting together and trying to rescue their cattle and belongings that are still buried under the rubble.
Another woman I met during our assessment is Shah Gul. She is 47 years old and lost her husband six years ago due to sickness. She has six children who are all younger than 15 – two sons and four daughters. She is the only bread winner in her family. When I met her she was busy. Her hands were covered in mud as she was trying to take out her food and belongings from the ruins of her home, but everything was destroyed. For women like Shah Gul the situation is extremely critical. She is very poor and only earns money when she can find work in other villagers’ houses. While Shah Gul was talking to me, her children stood beside her, wearing torn clothes and sandals. They were shaking because of the cold temperatures. Their faces, hands and feet had turned a dark red. Shah Gul asked me:“I lost all my belongings, my house, my clothes, food and fire wood. I lost everything I have worked for the entire last year. What shall I do now to feed my children and to keep them warm? How can I rebuild my house?”
CARE and other organizations are now working under high pressure to support people like Shah Gul and Agha Gul who are most affected by the current hazardous weather conditions and who are in urgent need of shelter and food, heating and warm clothing. CARE has released 30,000 Euros to start distributing tarps and other material to people so they can fix their destroyed houses. CARE is also planning to distribute hygiene items. When I look at how the weather is getting worse any minute and when I listen to the weather forecasts, I really hope that we will receive more funds to support the people I have met and many more who are affected by this crisis as soon as possible.
Written by âJohanna Mitscherlich