Flooding in east Balochistan, Pakistan: The story of Radia and child Zora

Severe flooding in the Nasirabad and Jaffarabad districts of Balochistan and Sindh in early September have left thousands of families homeless after they were forced to flee to higher ground.

MSF teams have been reaching out to the vulnerable populations providing people with basic healthcare, clean drinking water and items such as jerry cans and soap.

Radia* is married to a farmer from the Bugti Tribe in Dera Murad Jamali. She watches over four year old Zora*, who is the daughter of her husband’s other wife.

On 18 October 2012, Zora, 4, was admitted to the MSF hospital in Dera Murad Jamali Civil Hospital in Balochistan. She was diagnosed with severe acute malnutrition and diarrhea. Zora weighed only 4.1 kg, the weight of a nine month old baby and a fifth of what an average four year old should weigh.

Zora has three other siblings and her mother is expecting another baby soon.

From the time she was born, she was always sick. Zora’s step mother, Radia, describes what life is like for Zora and her mother. Radia is married to Zora’s father. She is his second wife.

Zora was never like the other children, she continued to lose weight and suffer from diarrhea. We spent a lot of money trying to improve her health and took her to many private clinics and other medical facilities seeking treatment but she would always fall sick again.

“When the flood waters came our family lost everything. The walls collapsed and our crops were destroyed. Our land was in the Rabi and we used to grow tomatoes and grain. Now we have no money to buy food.

My husband is now looking for work in Dera Murad Jamali – we need money to feed our children and rebuild our house.

A local policeman told us about MSF and said that they will treat Zora for free and help her.  I brought Zora to the hospital the very next day. I was scared. I thought she might not survive. I felt she was dying. She was unresponsive and I couldn’t get her to eat. She was too weak to even cry.

Zora fell very sick when the floods started but we didn’t have any money to get her medical treatment in a clinic. For the first three to four days we could only watch as she became weaker.

The doctors examined her and started giving IV fluids and feeding her milk. By evening I started see changes in my Zora. She was responsive to pain, she even cried. The treatment is free and even I am looked after. I am very happy to have brought her here. She is finally getting the treatment she needs. I will stay here with her until I am told she is well enough to leave. I have watched many parents take their children and leave without completing the treatments I won’t be doing that. I have seen Zora come close to dying.  Now I want to see her get better. We hope now that God will help us get back on our feet again.

MSF is working hard for us, the community here and we can only give back our duas (prayers) and thanks.”

Sadly, Zora had complications and despite the efforts of the medical staff, she passed away on 19th Oct 2012.

*The patient’s name has been changed to protect his anonymity.

MSF has been working in Pakistan since 1986, with Pakistani communities and Afghan refugees affected by armed conflict, natural disasters or who lack access to medical care. MSF teams are currently providing free emergency medical care in Kurram Agency (FATA), Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan and Sindh provinces.

MSF relies solely on private financial contributions from individuals around the world for its work in Pakistan, and does not accept funding from any government, donor agency or military or politically-affiliated group.