The Pakistan floods not only caused physical damage and loss of life, many survivors are also suffering the psychological impact of the disaster which changed their lives.
Dr Zeeshan Solangi, who is working on a Pakistan Red Crescent psychosocial support programme, says: “The floods affected people in different ways. Some tell us they have flashbacks and nightmares.
“Some people say they hear the sounds of the flood waters coming at night. In one case, a woman was so convinced the floods would return she would not allow anyone from her family out of the house.”
The power of play
In M. Ibrahim Channa village, Sindh province, children are playing football. There is no opposing team, no defined goals or positions, just a roar of exuberance as every child in the school chases the ball with urgent intent. It doesn’t matter where the goal is, it’s a glorious game.
There is also cricket, volleyball and other games. In another area, Pakistan Red Crescent volunteers show children how to make colourful butterflies and toys from scraps of paper, paint and sticks.
The games and activities are an outlet for the children and part of the programme, which is supported by the Danish and German Red Cross. It accompanies the distribution of emergency relief items, such as blankets, tarpaulins and kitchen sets as part of a plan to help 9,000 families in the region.
A long road to recovery
Volunteers are also teaching women in the village how to purify water by using water purification tablets, then straining the water into a separate container. These important skills and information will help the women and their families remain healthy as they reconstruct their lives in the floods aftermath.
The whole village is on a long road to recovery and the volunteers are offering both emotional and practical support to help families rebuild their lives. As one such volunteer, Tanzila, counsels a young woman she holds her hand and reassures her. The woman wipes her eyes and tells Tanzila she has found it hard to cope since the floods, and has been feeling anxious and afraid.
Dr Solangi explains. ”We teach people relaxation techniques like breathing exercises to help them cope and we teach them ways to deal with their thoughts. It’s important to reassure people, to let them know it’s normal to feel this way, but it will pass.”
Read Hanifa's story about life after escaping the floods