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In flooded northern India, a mix of relief and deep uncertainty for displaced families

World Vision is responding to immediate needs and seeking $2 million to provide continued assistance to those affected by the floods in India's Bihar state.

September 2008



Baby Sabrun, less than a month old, was forced to flee with her family from devastating floods in India's Bihar state that swept away everything they owned. Between this disaster and the rapidly rising cost of food, this little girl's future is at serious risk.
Baby Sabrun, less than a month old, was forced to flee with her family from devastating floods in India's Bihar state that swept away everything they owned. Between this disaster and the rapidly rising cost of food, this little girl's future is at serious risk.
Photo ©2008 Kit Shangpliang/World Vision
When violent floods rushed in and threatened to wipe out their home, Usman and his family had no choice but to leave behind everything they had.

After a journey of nearly 12.5 miles on foot, Usman, his wife, and their two young daughters reached a World Vision-assisted relief camp set up at a college in the Madhepura district. As they watched families around them searching for loved ones, they realized that they were lucky to all be alive — and together.

In late August, in the midst of a severe monsoon season, the Kosi River overflowed its banks, and heavy flooding hit Bihar, India, affecting more than 3 million people. In hard-hit Madhepura, thousands have been driven from their homes, and many are still unaccounted for.

Usman and his family are among some 10,000 people there who received immediate food relief from World Vision in the first days following the floods.

'All is lost'


Help World Vision continue to respond with life-saving support for children and families affected by the flooding in northern India.

Though he is grateful that his family is together, Usman still worries for the future of his children. His youngest daughter, Sabrun, is only 20 days old. Now, Usman knows that there will be nothing waiting when he takes his new baby home.

"It's not a question of what we have or don't have; all is lost, and we will need to find a way to survive," he says. The disappointment in Usman's voice echoes the feelings of many in his village whose lives have been turned upside-down. Usman hopes to set up a tent on his old land, but he does not think this alternative will be sufficient for survival.

An uncertain future

Times were difficult even before the monsoon season came and the floods set in. Usman and his family lived on government property, and he worked as a rickshaw puller, hauling small passenger carts to earn the equivalent of a dollar a day. In the face of the global food crisis, survival was already a struggle. Now, in the aftermath of the flood, it seems nearly impossible. "The wages I get will not increase, while the cost of living and food prices are increasing by the day," Usman tells World Vision staff.

Crop and field destruction resulting from the flood will only make matters worse. Women like Usman's wife used to work in the fields, where they received a share of food to take home to their families. But the floods have washed away both the work and the food.

Usman worries that, like many of his neighbors, his family will have to migrate to another city or state. "I don't want to leave my village," says a frustrated Usman, not sure if he will have another choice.

World Vision's response

Baby Sabrun is held by her mother, who displays a lunch provided by World Vision.
Baby Sabrun is held by her mother, who displays a lunch provided by World Vision.
Photo ©2008 Kit Shangpliang/World Vision

The future is uncertain, but Usman remains optimistic. Thanks to World Vision, Usman's baby and 2-year-old daughter are safe and healthy. Sheltered in the relief camp, run by the college authorities and assisted by World Vision, Usman's family eats nourishing meals of rice, lentils, vegetables, and salt.

Yet even as the floodwaters begin to recede, and some think of returning home, the need is not going away. Like Usman's family, many others will need the continued assistance of World Vision in the days ahead.

Widespread need


Medical care, clean drinking water, and protection for children remain urgent needs. Franklin Joseph, World Vision's director of humanitarian emergency affairs in India, reports that shelter materials, hygiene kits, and water containers have been added to the survival kits being distributed to families. "We are assessing the needs as quickly as possible so that we can put in place additional programs to respond to the health needs of the people in the camps," said Joseph.

On Sept. 9, World Vision distributed kits to 3,020 people. To date, World Vision has helped 29,620 children and adults, and we are appealing for $2 million globally to reach a total of 125,000 with relief, recovery, and rehabilitation assistance.

The flooding crisis is affecting neighboring countries as well. In Nepal, World Vision is assisting survivors in 20 temporary relief shelters, constructing makeshift bathrooms, distributing food and blankets, and providing cooked meals. In Bangladesh, we have prepared seven-day relief kits and put our rapid response team on standby.

Three ways you can help


>> Please pray for children and families, including Usman and his wife and daughters who have been affected by the recent flooding in India, Nepal, and Bangladesh, and pray for aid organizations like World Vision that are working hard to bring relief to those who need it most.
>> Donate now to help World Vision respond to the flooding disaster in India. Your gift will help World Vision respond immediately and effectively with life-saving support for affected children and families.
>> Sponsor a child in India today. Children sponsored by World Vision's U.S. donors are thankfully unaffected by the flooding; however, your love and support can help equip a child to better cope with future disasters similar to this one.

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