Pakistan floods: “I was proud to help my own village with MSF”
Akeela is a counsellor who lives in a small village in Balochistan, one of the areas hardest hit by the extreme flooding that has affected more than 33 million people in Pakistan.
After losing her family home in the destructive floods that followed the unprecedented monsoon rains, she joined the Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders (MSF) emergency response to help others in need of care.
In June and July, we received normal rainfall and daily life was going fine. At the weekends, I visited my family in my village, which is about three miles from the city of Dera Murad Jamali, where I work with MSF’s outreach team.
In my job, we visit local communities to raise awareness about mother and child health and different diseases.
In early August there had been an unusual amount of rain but then, on 17 August, the water started coming towards our village and we were instructed to leave.
"The water was nine feet deep. It was heartbreaking to see our house and village underwater."
In the rush, my parents and younger siblings left the village. Thankfully our uncle’s home in Dera Murad Jamali was in a safer area, so we moved there. My brother and sister were left behind to take care of our cattle, which they took to higher ground.
Suddenly, the floodwater started to cover the village and they had to flee. They climbed onto the rooftop of a nearby house and watched as the water washed away our cattle, house and farm.
The water was nine feet deep. It was heartbreaking to see our house and village underwater.
Forced to drink floodwater
I took a week’s leave to support my family, but when I saw that so many people needed help, I decided to join MSF’s emergency response.
Within two days, I was with a team helping to reach people in far-away flood-affected villages.
We found families living in the open. I saw some people sheltering on the side of the road under two wooden bed frames, pushed together and draped with plastic because their houses were underwater. They had no clean water.
Still, the rain continued.
We are running mobile clinics and providing people with clean drinking water from MSF’s water treatment plant, which is one of only a few in the region.
We are seeing patients with respiratory infections, diarrhoea, malaria and skin infections. The people here are drinking the floodwater, which is contaminated, and it is spreading disease.
Those people who need further treatment are referred to MSF’s district hospital.
People still need help
We have distributed 236 hygiene kits to people taking shelter near Uch Power Plant, we have provided 70,000 litres of clean drinking water to displaced families and we have carried out medical consultations for around 2,575 patients.
We recently set up a mobile clinic in my own village, which made me very proud. The people of my village know my work with MSF well and I was happy to provide support to my own community.
So many people still need help.
I met one family with three children, all of whom had high fevers. They had travelled a long distance through the floodwaters to seek help for their children. They had nothing: no food, no water, no shelter. I felt their pain.
There are many people like them in remote villages who still need assistance. We will continue travelling with our mobile clinics to reach them.
Help us prepare for the next emergency
MSF and the climate emergency
The climate emergency is also a healthcare emergency. When extreme weather events occur, it is the most vulnerable people who suffer the most.
This crisis isn’t only about the catastrophic cyclones and typhoons that hit the headlines. This is about the spread of deadly diseases that can follow. The increasing risk of drought and famine. Of rising water levels. Desertification. The mass displacement of people from their homes…
In every way, climate change is a major humanitarian emergency.