The Flood of 2010

Mustafa KhanSeptember 22, 2016Climate ChangeAwesome Moments

I was 12 years old, in July 2010, when my country was flooded by the Indus River due to turbulent monsoon rains.

It was an ordeal to turn on the television every day and see the devastation. I felt impotent and useless. Though I was unharmed and sheltered at my house, watching the tragic event on the television and hearing about the disastrous impact it had on our economy affected me greatly.

Pakistan is a nation of 120 million people. The floods of 2010 affected 20 million; one-fifth of our country’s land was submerged underwater. The country was in turmoil. Thousands of households were destroyed and thousands of people were displaced. It had a devastating effect on all citizens as we watched our whole country being ravaged by the flood. The flood rendered thousands of people homeless and hungry. It made me feel immensely guilty to sit at home, just a few miles away, unable to provide any sort of help.

My mother asked me why I looked so gloomy one day, and I told her how I constantly felt guilty and useless. She told me that I could donate to a relief camp if I wanted to help the flood victims. I was unaware that there were massive support camps in my city, and that we could donate food or clothing items to them. Although my parents had donated, I felt that it was my responsibility as a Pakistani citizen to contribute myself. I used all my savings to buy dry food items and gave a few of my t-shirts. When my package of food and clothes was delivered, I felt I had fulfilled a responsibility. It brought me great joy to know that, because of my donations, someone would be filling the empty stomachs in the refuge camps and they would have clothes to cover themselves.

My cousin was responsible for delivering the package as he was working for a relief camp and visiting the affected areas. He informed me about the conditions in the area and it was gut-wrenching to hear that children my age had been displaced from their families and had no roof to sleep under. Fortunately, through donations, orphanages were built in the affected areas and the children were given homes and free education.

Though I was unable to visit these areas, I learned from television and social media stories of the survivors and how we were helping them restart their lives. To increase more donations, I participated in a fundraiser held at my school where I baked cupcakes and raised a few thousand rupees. Fundraisers and charity events to help the flood victims were conducted throughout Pakistan and helped, not only with donations, but with awareness of the incident as it was broadcast to the international community.

Through donating and participating in fundraisers, the guilt I felt earlier diminished. The feeling of uselessness we have when we sit at home and watch people suffer on the television can be turned into productivity by making an effort and helping society.

I was 12 and was so pleased with myself at the time. The devastation created by the flood provided me with a reality check. There are people who suffer through so much and witness the destruction of their homes, and yet those of us fortunate to live comfortably make a big deal out of trivial issues. This incident has made me glad for the life I have and made me truly grateful for all that my family has bestowed on me.

Mohammad Mustafa Khan studies at the Haque Academy in Pakistan, and is currently in grade 11, doing O levels. His hobbies include researching, traveling, reading, and helping the community. He loves watching movies and is president of the Film Club at his school.