A Journey of Renewal

The HANDS’ response, starting six to seven months ago, marked a turning point. Permanent houses, proper roads, and a bridge transformed our village.
My name is Yaqoob Baloch, a 60-year-old resident of Essa Khan Rajero, a village that witnessed both the trials of destruction and the triumph of renewal. In my role as the head of my household, I carry the responsibility of managing the well-being of my family and navigating the challenges life throws our way. In our close-knit family, my married son and my brother’s sons (nephews) share our home, creating a lively and supportive atmosphere. With one son and eight daughters, six of whom are happily married, and the joy of grandchildren, our family is a source of strength and joy.
My livelihood revolves around the 4-5 acres of land that I farm. Our house is situated on this land, providing us with both a home and a means of sustenance. Fishing is another significant aspect of our lives, a collaborative effort involving my son and nephews. We catch fish on our boat, sell it in the market, and make a living – our dependence on the river for a livelihood is a central part of our daily routine.
The year 2022 brought unprecedented challenges to our village. Torrential rains destroyed our homes, leaving us in dire circumstances. The government, witnessing the devastation during their visits, offered immediate donations to sustain us. Next to come to our rescue was the HANDS team. Their commitment extended beyond temporary relief – they pledged to reconstruct our houses, and they delivered on that promise. HANDS constructed permanent houses and washrooms, replacing the wooden bridge we had made multiple times with a durable one.
During the relentless nights of rain, fear gripped us in our mud houses, especially with a watercourse flowing beside our home. For 15-16 days, our village remained submerged, prompting us to seek refuge on higher grounds. Our livestock was tied on roads to ensure their safety. As the water receded, the extent of the damage became apparent – out of 90 houses, only a few survived.
The HANDS’ response, starting six to seven months ago, marked a turning point. Permanent houses, proper roads, and a bridge transformed our village. Drinking water issues were resolved with the installation of hand pumps, while the provision of sewing machines empowered our girls. The community, united by familial bonds, freely visits each other’s homes, and the girls collectively learn sewing skills.

Their support went beyond shelter – ration, solar lights, and a fan eased our immediate struggles. Our females received financial assistance through the income support program, while seeds, fertilizers, and livestock were provided to empower the community economically. The installation of hand pumps, pathways, water filters, and a community hall further enhanced our living conditions.
As the eldest in the village, I became a decision-maker and advisor, overseeing the needs of the community. The community hall became a refuge for those without food, where we provide sustenance to those in need. Even with the return of rain, our worries have diminished with our proper, permanent houses. HANDS, a non-governmental organization, contributed rickshaws that transport our children to school, addressing challenges posed by distance and safety. The tragic loss of one of my daughters in an accident, years ago when the children walked to school, remains etched in our memories. The rickshaws, making multiple trips for the 40 children attending school, have become a vital part of our lives.
Marvi stores, offering food items and medicines, have brought convenience closer to home. The rickshaw, beyond school transportation, serves as a means to take patients to the hospital if needed. Villagers express their gratitude to HANDS for these transformative changes, and we hope other organizations follow suit in supporting our community.
The rain, initially a source of distress, brought notices and aid, culminating in the transformative intervention of HANDS. Solar electricity replaced battery-run torches, and a proper masjid with facilities as good as any in the village now stands, symbolizing our resilience and renewal.

Model Village

HANDS has vast experience planning, implementing/ developing, and sustaining integrated community development and model villages. HANDS with the funding of UNILEVER-Pakistan developed an integrated MISALI Model Village Essa Rajero Union Council Gahrho District Thatta. This village is 5km away from Gharo city but near the seaside.

The Village Essa Khan Rajero is in Union Council Garho Taluka Ghora Bari District Thatta. It has 90 households and a 700-800 population. Before 2022 heavy rain 50% of households depended upon fishing, 40% on agriculture, and 10% on private jobs & daily-wage labor. But after the rain, almost 95% lost their agricultural lands due to rain and seawater entering their agricultural lands, and now more than 90% of households are surviving on fishing labor. Seven household women were working in embroidery and sewing clothes.

MISALI Model villages aim to relieve them from poverty, illiteracy and illnesses. This project aims to develop flood-affected communities to sustain within the resources and return to normal life.

HANDS is rehabilitating more than 6000 flood-affected villages into model villages in different parts of the country. The integrated project includes health, education, livelihood, community physical infrastructure, Water Sanitation & Hygiene (WASH), Social Mobilization and Gender Development. The key tasks were conducting focal group discussion, Need assessment / Participating well-being ranking/FGDs/transact walk, Poverty scorecard,  Assessment of beneficiaries, Selection of beneficiaries /HH, Provision of shelter, CPIs,  WASH schemes, bridge, Provision of health facility,  Provision of culvert, masjid, community center, solar, latrine, Develop Livelihood Investment Plan (LIP),  provision of trainings, rickshaw, swing  center, agri input, livestock, human & institutional development and post assessment of the beneficiaries.

The total cost of the rehabilitation of the model village was 35 million rupees as per beneficiary cost was 41,586 rupees and per household cost was nearly 400,000 rupees.

HANDS acknowledges the support of its partners including Sindh People Housing (SPHF), UNILEVER Pakistan, CHEVRON, Asia Petroleum, Pakistan State Oil (PSO), Dutch Bank, Rehnuma Trust, Soorty Textile and iCare Foundation are partner organizations to scale model villages on ground.