After two years: For some flood survivors, their past life is a closed chapter

Many people were glad to leave the shackles of forced labour.

Sarfaraz Memon August 07, 2012

SUKKUR: For the 30-plus families living at the relief camp for flood survivors near Sukkur’s airport road, what was supposed to be a temporary abode has now turned into a home.

Most of the families who lived here have now returned to their native areas – Shikarpur, Jacobabad, Kashmore, Kandkhot, Qambar-Shahdadkot and others.

However, there are still many people from these areas and Gandakha (Balochistan) who don’t want to go back home.

“We don’t want to go back and live the same old miserable life under the watchfulness of the landlord,” said a woman, Saforan, who was a resident of Dari village near Kandhkot. According to her, the landlord treated her and others like machines and they worked day and night.

Though the relief camp is not more comfortable than her own house but Saforan likes it because she has the freedom to do whatever she wants.

Ashiq Ali Mangi and Khidmat Ali Naseerani recall the time when they first set foot at the camp two years before on August 7, 2010. They remember the shock everyone was in when the Tori Bund gave away and water gushed into their village. “Everyone was flabbergasted and no one knew what to do. People weren’t able to save anything but their lives.”

Though many non-governmental organizations have built housing schemes for the flood survivors Mangi and Naserani say that they have been built on the lands of feudal who can kick the people out whenever they want and give the land back to their own farmers.

They claimed that the land distributed to peasants by former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had been usurped by landlords.

But both, Mangi and Naseerani, who work at the fruit and vegetable market, are proud of the improvements they have made to the relief camp. “We have set up a school in a tent established a school in a tent where around 45 boys and girls study,” they said. “But we don’t have any medical facility. Some women gave birth to premature babies and they died soon after birth.” At the time there are around more than two dozen women who are pregnant and they take them to a midwife in a nearby village for delivery.

But, unlike Saforan they are not content here. They want to live somewhere on their own. “We don’t demand anything from the government but a piece of land where we can build mud houses and live in peace,” they said. “This land is private property and whenever the owners visit the camp they ask us to move.”

Published in The Express Tribune, August 8th, 2012.