Pakistan 6 months on: The knitters of Aman Kot

Emergencies article written on the 04 Feb 2011

Photo: Jane Beesley/Oxfam

Photo story by Jane Beesley/Oxfam

Besides rural villages the floods devastated the lives and livelihoods of people living in urban areas like Aman Kot near Mingora, Swat. Here Oxfam together with local partner Lasoona are the only non-governmental organisations working with people who have lost everything.

In the privacy of a small courtyard we meet some of the women who knitted jumpers, as part of Oxfam’s Cash for Work programme, to find out what they thought of the programme, and to hear about their current situation and prospects.

Dilshad

“I was very pleased with Oxfam-Lasoona because I received cash from the programme. Before I got this money my daughter had been ill. When we went to the doctor, he advised us that she should have an operation, which cost 8,000 Rupees (approx AUD$174). We were going to borrow the money from (my) neighbour but were worrying about how we could pay it back because my husband is jobless and we have no income. With the money we received we were able to repay our neighbours.

“During the flood our house was filled with water. We went to stay with relatives for one month. Since coming back we have been trying to clean and repair our home.

“I feel this programme was very good because we are poor people and you gave us money and then you gave the sweaters we made to other poor people. It made us feel good to be making something and you paid us, but because we were making them for others in need that made us feel good too.

“What you gave might be a small amount of money but it was a great solution for some of our problems.”

Bibi Zahida

“The Cash for Work programme of knitting jumpers was very good and it was pleasurable work for me. I’m a widow and I’ve also lost one of my sons (before the flood). It’s very painful for a mother to lose a child. Before the conflict and the flood we used to have a good life. We were poor but it was still a good life. Then the conflict came and we fled.

“Before one of my son’s had had a kebab shop. We lost 60,000 Rupees (approx AUD$1,300) of onions and other stock and when we came back the landlord asked us to pay 85,000 Rupees (approx $AUD$1,800) in rent for the three-four months that we’d been away. We’ve been paying gradually but we still haven’t paid it all back because we have other debts.

“My husband died of cancer and we’d had to take loans for his treatment. I had to borrow money for his operation, my son’s marriage, my daughter’s marriage and to meet our daily needs. All this together with what we owe the landlord means I now owe two lakhs (200,000 Rupees almost AUD$4,300). One of my sons has a disability and I only have one son who is working and more than twenty-five people are depending on him. I also owe 3,000 Rupees (approx AUD$65) for my own medical costs because I have high blood pressure and a heart problem. We have no money in an account.

“I was very happy knitting these jumpers. I hope that you or another organisation can come and help us in this way again. There are no other opportunities for us so we are praying to God that you can help us.”

Watch the video: Pakistan floods: 6 months on