Hope for landslide survivors in Afghanistan

Friday, May 30, 2014

“It was Friday, and I was out looking for daily work. I waited until around noon where labourers gather to find daily work,” recalls Mehrabudin, a resident of a village  in Argo District, Badakhshan, Afghanistan.

“On that day, no-one selected me for work so I returned to my village,” Mehrabudin continues. “This region is very hilly. As I passed a hill near my village, I saw a lot of people standing by where the landslide covered our village and homes. At first, I thought I was dreaming or my eyes were not working. Then, I realised it was not a dream.

The landslide on May 2 had killed over 500 people, by official estimates. Unofficial figures put the number dead at five times more.

“I could see from the upper part of the hill that there was a landslide and part of the village had also slid away. I could see in the valley a lot of mud where my home and children would have been. As I came closer, I could see people from our neighboring village removing dead bodies.

“Everywhere people were crying. I also started to search the mud for my children. One of my neighbours said that my children were safe and he directed me toward the neighbouring village. I rushed to find them. I found my eldest daughter with two of her sisters and three brothers.”

Mehrabudin’s wife and three other children were not so lucky. His eldest daughter informed him that their mother died trying to rescue their five year old sister. Two of their brothers, aged 20 and 9, were trapped with their sheep in the pasture.

Mehrabudin, 45, is in despair at the loss of his wife and three children. He and his surviving children mourn the loss of family, as well as the loss of their home, livestock, and orchard. “We feel helpless and do not know what to do.”

ACT Alliance members have been quick to respond to Mehrabudin’s situation. Church World Service-Pakistan/Afghanistan provided Mehrabudin’s family mattresses and pillows through a distribution supported by two other ACT members, DanChurchAid and the United Methodist Committee on Relief. The family’s other basic needs were met through the relief efforts of the Afghan government and other humanitarian agencies.

“It gives me hope that people from different parts of my country and people from all over the world extend their hand of support. It helps to change my views, and I feel that there are people who think about us, who care about us, and give us our life back. I am really thankful to your organisation and all the people who have helped us,” Mehrabudin said.