PAKISTAN Case Study Bakht Ali an Orphan Caught in the Floods

PAKISTAN (July 24, 2007) – Bakht Ali, 5, used to live with his parents in Shahi Gadroo village in Pakistan's Sindh Province. Bakht's father worked cultivating farm land for the village land owner. His  mother worked as a maid in the wealthy man's house. Two years ago, both Bakht's mother and father died. They had contracted tuberculosis, and they didn't have enough money to pay a doctor or to buy the right medicines.  An orphan, Bakht moved in with his uncle and went to work helping out with household chores and looking after his uncle's livestock. That was until last July when torrential rains raised the level of the water in nearby Lake Machar, and triggered flash floods in the surrounding villages.

The floods destroyed the house that Bakht and his uncle had been living in and made the entire family homeless. Bakht now lives in a tent next to a bypass road 10 Km (6 miles) away. The family is waiting for water levels to recede so that they can go back. The water in the tent settlement where Bakht is living is contaminated with waste from the floods.  Bakht began suffering from skin infections, and he soon developed a fever and severe diarrhoea after drinking the water.

Bakht might have died, if he hadn't received emergency medical treatment from a mobile  medical camp set up by one of CARE's local implementing partners, The Tahleeq Foundation.  When Bakht appeared at the camp's clinic, he was severely dehydrated from diarrhoea, but with a simple treatment, he was quickly on his feet and running around again.  Since then, Bakht visits the medical camp for routine check-ups to ensure that he fully recovers. During a recent visit, he told doctors that he had decided to become a doctor so that he could save the lives of children like himself.
Bakht also enjoys a child friendly play centre that CARE has set up in the camp. "The teachers are really friendly," he says. "There are lots of activities like singing, colouring and playing games. We learn about the importance of washing our hands and brushing our teeth. I remember what the teacher says when I go home. I don't want to be sick again.   I forget about what happened to my home and my village when I am in the centre. Thank you CARE!"

CARE has been working since the beginning of the emergency to provide tents, improve water supplies and health facilities, provide psychosocial support for communities displaced by the flood, and to make sure that families have the basic necessities they need to make it through the emergency. Depending on funding, CARE hopes to continue working with these communities for the next three to six months to continue providing these services and to help people return to a sense of normalcy.

Read another case study about a widow surviving the floods.