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Headshot of Samra

A helping hand

Before the terrible flood hit Pakistan last year, Samra Kulsoom and her family were leading a normal life. But when the flood came, "it turned our world upside down," she said. 

Knowing the water was on its way, the family--Samra, her husband, two children and her mother--stocked up on one month's worth of food like wheat and other essentials and moved their food and valuables to the upper floor and roof of their house in Rajanpur, in Pakistan's Punjab region, to keep things safe from rising water. 

When the flood hit the city, "the immediate impact on my family's life was severe. We were confined to our house for a couple of months, and only had power during the day," Samra said. 

Due to the high water that flooded the streets, and the fallen electric wires that made travelling dangerous, the family was confined to their home. "It was a harrowing experience," she said, adding she and her husband were also unable to work. 

The confinement also affected the family's physical and mental health; it was especially hard on her elderly mother. "We did what we could to support her and make her feel comfortable," Samra said. 

When the water receded, Samra returned to her work as an aid worker with a local NGO, the HELP Foundation. "It was difficult initially, but we had to do it to help others who were suffering," she said, adding "if we did not help our people, who would?" 

With support from CARE, the HELP Foundation was able to provide emergency assistance to people struggling to recover from the flood. This included establishing safe spaces for women and children, providing livelihood and input kits for farmers, and distributing health and hygiene kits along with awareness sessions.  

"The work we are doing has been very positively received by those we have been able to help, and it has been a source of hope in an otherwise bleak situation," Samra said.  

With funding from the Humanitarian Coalition and the Government of Canada, CARE has been working with local partners such as the HELP Foundation to address the needs of flood-affected communities by providing various kinds of assistance--hygiene kits, water filtration kits, and other essential items to help families cope with the aftermath of the floods.  

CARE also worked with partners to set up safe spaces for women and children and funded efforts to re-establish livelihoods, especially for vulnerable households. This includes farmers who have suffered significant losses due to the floods. 

"With the help of CARE's funding, we were able to increase our scope of work and reach more people," said Samra. "But we know our work is akin to a grain of salt in a bag of wheat--there is still much more to be done to help those affected by the floods."