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Arbabzadi and her children

Home again

Life was hard for Arbabzadi, a 50-year-old widow and mother of six, before the floods hit Sindh province in Pakistan last year.

After her husband passed away, she earned a meagre income selling grass to farmers for livestock and washing clothes for her neighbours. Then the catastrophic floods hit the country last summer and damaged her mud house--the water was 2.5 metres deep.

With no home and no work, the family was forced to find shelter on the shoulder of busy highway, high enough up from the water. All they had for protection from the rain and sun was a sheet of plastic, and often they had no food to eat or water to drink.

"After the flood, my family and I were faced with a terrible situation because we had to leave everything behind," Arbabzadi said. "Our home was damaged, our livestock perished, and all our belongings washed away. We had nowhere to take refuge except the roadside."

They lived like that for two-and-a-half months, existing on a few handouts. Some days they went to bed hungry.

"It was difficult to sleep as vehicles were continuously driving past," she said. "We had no source of livelihood."

Whenever it rained, the children became scared of the rising water, she added. "We felt hopeless."

Then a local partner of Norwegian Church Aid, supported by The Humanitarian Coalition through its member, Canadian Lutheran World Relief, found the family and provided them with shelter, household essentials and other materials.

Life still isn't easy, but support through the Humanitarian Coalition -- with the support of the Government of Canada - made it possible for the family to leave the highway and return to their damaged house--just one of many vulnerable families helped through its efforts.