Woman stands beside metal sheeting and smiles at the camera

Rahima is grateful for the metal sheeting she received to rebuild her house

Building a house, making a home

Her house sits on the banks of the Kheyai river, near the Bangladesh-India border. During rainy season, Rahima Begum travels by boat to come and go from her home. Heavy rainfall often leads to flooding.

But this time was different.

In May 2022, Bangladesh was hit with one of the worst floods in years. A record 38 inches of rain fell in a single day, the highest in 122 years. The Northeastern region was largely inundated, and millions of people were left homeless. 

People were marooned by the flood for days, without food and water supplies. The rice harvest was destroyed, leaving farmers who are dependent on this single crop unable to feed themselves.

Rahima says, “Floods are common in our region. But this time it appeared in a different form and devoured my house. I am so helpless now.”

In reality, Rahima’s situation was a tough one to begin with. 

Rahima Begum is a 35-year-old mother of three whose husband abandoned her 7 years ago. When her husband left her, she had no option but to move back to her parent’s place with her children, where they provided a hut for her to live. Her father is elderly with very little income, and Rahima does not have a formal job. She sometimes makes fishing nets and sells them at local markets. The family is stretched to make ends meet. “I am so poor and it is difficult for me to feed them three meals,” she says.

In fact Rahima is considering sending her 13-year-old daughter into town to live with a family as a domestic helper if it would allow her to continue her schooling.

She says, “My daughter is very young. I do not know how she would cope with a new environment. She might be ill-treated.”

The flooding could have pushed this family to take desperate measures.

Instead, Islamic Relief in Bangladesh, with the support of the Humanitarian Coalition and the Canadian government, provided Rahima with what she needed to rebuild her home: 20 pieces of tin, a wooden door, and two windows. She also received cash to cover extra materials and labour costs.

She says, “I am very thankful to Islamic Relief for whatever I have received from them. I pray for them from the bottom of my heart.”

Life is still hard for Rahima, but thanks to some help from Canadians, she now has a home for herself and her children.