LIFE ON THE CHARS
Soimuddin lives with his wife Zoebeda in Fakirer Char, Begumganj in Bangladesh.
In Bangladesh, many rivers have tiny islands within them, locally known as ‘chars’. These chars are extremely fertile land, so many people have created their homes on these tiny islands in order to have a place to farm to provide for their families and generate a livelihood to support them.
We had cultivatable land. We had a house. We were happy with what we had. We couldn’t afford a good house, but we were happy with what we could afford.”
Unfortunately, as these chars are in the rivers, they can be affected by flooding during monsoon season. But the poor families who live there, like Soimuddin, can’t afford to relocate anywhere else.
2019 was an extremely bad year for families living on these chars. This monsoon season was the heaviest ever on record. All three of the country’s main rivers surged and flooded from the heavy rainfall. Landscapes were destroyed and riverbanks eroded causing massive flooding and damage to low-lying areas and communities living near the rivers.
One-third of the country was underwater after this monsoon season.
Soimuddin and his wife were one of the many families whose homes were destroyed from this major flooding. They lost their home, their land, and all of their livestock.
All of them died in the floods. We were affected a lot.”
Soimuddin lost his home and his land when the monsoons caused the river to surge.
“At the time, it rained for about four to five days before our land washed away. When we came back, we couldn’t resettle there.”
Most people from nearby communities headed to safety at an evacuation centre further inland.
“The evacuation centre is made of brick, but the rooms were occupied by other people, so we made a shelter outside of it. We made a shelter with plastic sheeting.”
THE PROCESS OF RECOVERY
Soimuddin and Zobeda received a shelter tool kit and tarpaulin to support their recovery process.
It’s been a help. We are using the tarpaulin, we are using the hoe, and we are also using the spade. Our life has been almost normal. The items that we received helped a lot.”
Soimuddin’s home is now sturdier and made of tin sheets, bamboo, and the ShelterBox tarpaulin as the roof. They used the tools to build their new home, to cut bamboo, to make the floors, as well as for farming and growing spice and rice paddy.
So much care is given to keep their shelter neat and tidy, and their floor is so smooth is looks polished!