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Caritas helps a village help itself to new houses

A village in Pakistan rebuilds its homes and hopes

The villagers eagerly set to work laying foundations for their new homes The villagers eagerly set to work laying foundations for their new homes
  • ucanews.com reporter, Ammaywala Vehra
  • Pakistan
  • October 1, 2012
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When last year’s monsoon rains struck Pakistan, they did so with dramatic and disastrous effect.

“It rained as if the sky had opened,” says Martha Masih, who lives in the village of Ammaywala Vehra, near the border with India.

“We were inside when the whole house caved in. I quickly shielded my five-day-old baby and a log struck me on my back. The hearth shattered, spilling the coals on the floor.”

After an hour’s frantic digging, Martha and her three children were pulled out by her neighbors. Among other injuries, she had sustained second degree burns on her foot from the coals.

She was rushed to hospital, where she recovered. But the troubles were only beginning for Martha and some of the villagers.

With their dwellings destroyed, they spent a full year in tents provided by the local parish priest. But their luck may have started to change last month, when a team from Caritas Pakistan Lahore spotted the plight of Martha and 33 other families.

“We were assessing villages affected by the latest monsoon rains when these vulnerable locals asked for help,” says Caritas coordinator Rojar Noor Alam.

“We wanted them to own their places so we encouraged them to build the foundations themselves.”

Even with one foot still in bandages, Martha was eager to take on the task, as were the others. They set about shifting and laying the bricks and concrete blocks for the foundations.

“The organization will provide the construction materials step by step, right up until the ceilings are completed,” Rojar says.

With work progressing quickly, all the foundations have now been laid for the 225 sq.ft. one-room houses. Last weekend, as promised, Caritas supplied the materials for the next stage of the project.

This partnership between Caritas and local people is being replicated elsewhere. In Mahalam Kalan, another rain affected community, reconstruction is in full swing, with the village’s St. Peter’s Church the center of operations.

The hardships are not over. Like others, Martha and her family have had to keep the cement bags inside their small tent, which already contains a bicycle and a bedstead, in case of more rain. But her concerns for the safety of children are over.

“Those were tough times,” she says. “Hopefully they won’t happen again.”

Related reports

Caritas works to stay ahead of floods

Caritas starts home-building project
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