When the Main Nara Valley Drain breached in 2010, the Mashaikh village, which had 60 houses, turned into a mound of mud and rubble. Nearly two years later, thanks to the efforts of the International Development and Relief Foundation (IDRF), each one of the houses destroyed in the floods has been rebuilt.
Soon after disaster struck, a team from the organisation visited the village, which is located about 12 kilometers from Dadu city. Its purpose was to conduct a survey on the damage that had been done. “But the women of the area gathered around the team and asked them to provide shelter,” said a young villager, Muhammad Safar. The charitable organisation, which is based in Canada, listened to these requests and returned two years later with the determination to provide shelter. “The project of rebuilding homes was completed within a month. This gives a clear message to other organisations that the people of Dadu cooperated,” said Safar.
The project was the first one that IDRF implemented without the help of local NGOs. The houses were handed over to the villagers at a simple ceremony organised on Monday. “The IDRF works for the development of the deprived and marginalised communities. The people of Canada want to help Pakistanis,” said Samir Dossal, who chaired the event. Dossal is an IDRF board member and was representing the chair and board of IDRF Canada. “We have several other programmes for the people of Pakistan, but we need the community to cooperate with us.”
The villagers said that it was because of Sindh education minister, Pir Mazharul Haq, that the project materialised. While talking to The Express Tribune from the United Kingdom, Haq appreciated the efforts of the IDRF. “I am really grateful to the team that helped the victims. They were in dire need of shelter,” he said.
The additional secretary of education and Haq’s wife, Begum Shahnaz Mazhar, who was visiting the village for the first time, said, “The villagers can now concentrate on children’s education. It will bring a rapid change to their lives.” On behalf of the education minister, Shahnaz announced that the government girls’ primary school in Pir Mashaik will be upgraded to a middle school.
The programmes director at IDRF, Elaine Wong, who had flown in from Canada to attend the ceremony, appreciated the community’s cooperation. “The local and the provincial governments helped the IDRF team. This project would not have materialised without the cooperation and guidance of the community,” she said.
Renowned economist, Dr Qaiser Bengali, who helped design the houses, advised people to plan well before constructing homes. “Floods will come again but we have to make sure that they do not damage our house. We should not build our houses at wrong places,” he said.
The country director of IDRF, Shahzad Hussain, said that the project would not have been possible without the community’s involvement. “The villagers coordinated and cooperated with us. They told us that traditional homes were suitable for hot weather,” he said. “This village was given priority as floods always hit it first.”
Ali Sher Lund, an elder of the village, said that several people living near Pir Mashaikh were also in dire need of shelter. “Their survival is tough in this weather where the temperature frequently hits 50 degrees.”
“There was a lot of water and almost all villages in the area were completely inundated. We are thankful to the IDRF for providing homes to villagers,” said MPA Syed Ghulam Shah Jilani.
Several villagers from adjoining areas attended the event and requested the government and IDRF team to build their villages. “[Mashaikh] is a model village for this area and we hope that the government will make our dreams true,” said Allah Bachayo, an elderly flood victim.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 12th, 2012.
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