Ghat Gopalan is a village about 45 km from Srinagar in Pattan block of Baramullah district. Here, the community’s main occupation is fishing, and they also hunt birds. The skills the villagers had developed while hunting birds helped them flee from danger during the recent floods along with their dependents. A river channel that passes by this village used to be their main source of livelihood. Now, one can see boats floating in muddy water near to village. Most of them ran away to the upside of village and some climbed on to their roof tops when the floods reached them through the stream. Their houses were inundated with water, leaving them in a dilapidated state. The community is now trying to forget the horrible time they have had to face. While passing through the village, I observed them using tarpaulin to cover their huts. Jerry cans were being used to bring potable water from other villages. I was glad to know that these were provided by CARE as part of its relief operations, and it was an example of how the relief materials are almost life savers for the affected community. Help Foundation, our local partner in Kashmir for relief distribution, helped us meet the village leader and finalise the place for distribution of relief kits. Community leaders helped us identify the beneficiaries and supported us in this distribution. We distributed 68 kits of dry ration in this village. Post distribution, we collected feedback from the community on the usability of the dignity kits we had supplied. Our kits received a positive feedback from the community, where tarpaulins, hygiene kits and buckets were much appreciated. Here, I got an opportunity to meet Umar, a youth from a neighbouring village, who informed me about the extent of the devastation. He expressed his gratitude to CARE India for being the first organisation to respond the floods. He introduced me to the locals and helped me get to know them.
Through Umar, I meet Rubina, a girl studying in 9th grade. She had 3 siblings, all of them went to school. She expressed her anguish about the disruption that the floods caused in her life. Her school was at a distance of 10 km from the village. Horse carts are the only way of reaching school. I learnt that community is quite aware of the importance of girls’ education and they put every effort towards supporting them in moving ahead in their education. Rubina told me that out of 20 girls of her age, six are in secondary school. Her father has provided one room in the village for primary school. 50 children used to study in this room. Unfortunately, this school has now been completely washed away. Two teachers looked after this school. They are hardly 9th pass. The school is now closed and teachers haven’t been coming to school since three days.
I also met Rukaiyya, a girl who has passed 10th grade. She too has lost her house to the floods. Her immediate priority is to repair their devastated shelter. I visited a few houses to understand the effect of the wrath of nature on people’s lives. People are living in miserable conditions. CARE’s support is like a ray hope for them. They are expecting more from CARE India and other NGOs. Their immediate needs are shelter, bedding and warm clothes because a month from now, severe winter will be here. People are worried and scared to think how they will protect themselves and their families.
I thanked Umar for his support in helping me understand the situation. He voiced his fear that the community will face further marginalisation due to this fury of nature. There is now a dire need of shelter. I came back with memories of the devastation and acknowledgment of CARE India’s efforts towards mitigation. There is a lot to be done and we have to gear up for the next stage of relief work to support the community.
Jammu and Kashmir Flood Relief Team