Pakistan Indus flood diary - day five
- 18 September 2010
- From the section South Asia
This week, the BBC's Aleem Maqbool is tracing the path of destruction wreaked by Pakistan's recent floods by travelling the length of the country on the mighty Indus river.
In his diary's fifth instalment, Aleem visits a community that feels it has been forgotten in this crisis. Aleem will finish his travels in the southern province of Sindh.
DAY FIVE: VILLAGE OF PAKA GALWA, NEAR ALIPUR
As we headed south from Muzaffargarh, we drove through large areas where, on both sides of the road, the land was still submerged.
But the fact that the road is now at least passable, with the use of a few makeshift bridges, was a huge improvement.
We stopped by a flood-damaged mosque near the village of Paka Ghalwa, where people were gathering for Friday prayers.
The worshippers told us the area had been totally cut off from the outside world for over a month.
"People here were trapped on their roofs for days," Muhammed Nasrullah told me, talking of the trauma of that desperate time.
"The helicopters would sometimes fly over and throw down small bits of aid, but it was nowhere near enough for all of us."
Worse and worse
Mr Nasrullah wanted to show us more of the area. "Nobody has come here until now," he told me as he led me away from the road, and through the alleyways of the village.
"No politicians have been here and no aid agencies too. We are all alone."
The devastation seemed to get worse and worse the further we went.
House after house had been turned into piles of rubble, the village graveyard was still totally under water, and we saw large families with young children living in the open or in makeshift tents with very few belongings left.
Mr Nasrullah became emotional as we reached the worst affected area.
"How are we supposed to survive without food?" he asked. "We hear rumours that there will be an aid distribution in a neighbouring village so we all rush there, then they beat us and tell us to go to find help somewhere else. We have no dignity."
He said the aid was all going to those who had connections with local politicians. "We poor, unimportant people, who can't make a noise, get nothing."
Near to where we had stopped, we found Allah Ditta, his wife, and their eight children. Beside the large mound of bricks that used to be their home, they sheltered from the blazing sun in a borrowed tent.
"We are in a terrible situation," said Mr Ditta. "Every day I stand by the main road. I wait for someone to come and hand out food and clean water. But it never happens."
His eldest daughter started to cry as she listened to her father.
"I can't miss out if they come, so I will keep spending my time doing the same thing," Mr Ditta said. "How else can I help my family when I have nothing?"
To add to his problems, his eight-year-old daughter, Misbah, had to have an operation after getting a severe infection.
As soon as there was a way to get out of the village, he had to take her to hospital and was away from the rest of his family for days.
When he returned, he found that all of his other children had become ill from drinking dirty water.
But even today, it is hot and the children are thirsty. There is nothing to give them here except more dirty water.
At a time like this, Allah Ditta, and countless others like him, have very few options.
Of course, as we have already seen on our journey, there are huge swathes of this country that have been devastated.
But today has made us wonder how many more people are struggling in small, poor hamlets, like this one.
The aid effort is totally passing them by.