Shaheen bibi and her child

I was worried for my children

When catastrophic floods hit the Charsadda district in Pakistan last year, the water severely damaged Shaheen Bibi's home in the village of Kharakai.

Two of rooms in the house collapsed. Two other rooms remained standing, but the family of seven--Shaheen and her husband, mother-in-law and four children--were afraid they would collapse, too. Unable to live in their house, they found shelter with another family.

"I was devastated when our house partially collapsed due to the floods," she said. "It was already a struggle to manage a large family with our limited income. But we had no choice but to move in with another family for the time being."

When the water receded, Shaheen and her husband went back to the house to clean out the mud and debris in hopes of making it livable again.

That time after the flood was difficult for the 31-year-old mother and her family. Numerous health issues emerged due to the contaminated water--things like scabies, skin infections, diarrhea, malaria and eye infections. With her husband not earning much income as a day labourer in nearby fields, Shaheen worried about finding enough money for medicine.

Then Doctors of the World/Médecins du Monde (MdM) started working in the area. Through them, Shaheen was able to visit a doctor and get medicine for her children for free, and get a checkup of her own--due to multiple pregnancies with little time between births, her own health was suffering. In addition to the check-up, she was able to get birth control advice and injections for her health and the benefit of the family.

"I was really worried as all four of my children became quite sick and I had no money to buy medicine for them," Shaheen said. "But then I heard that a medical team was near us and providing free check-ups and medicines. I went there for seeking help for my children, but the staff was very kind to me and discussed about family planning with me."

Doctors of the World is operating in Shaheen's village with support of the Government of Canada through the Humanitarian Coalition. Its work is needed since the devastating floods destroyed many health centres and clinics, leaving people without quality health care when they needed it most. Where health care is available, the floods caused many to lose their livelihoods, making it impossible for families to afford to see a doctor.

Shaheen is grateful for the support from Doctors of the World. "I now have access to free medicine and medical attention near my home for my children and myself," she said. "The staff treats us well."