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Sher Ali's story


Beyond the statistics


20 million people have been affected by the floods in Pakistan. Caritas Australia tells the story of just one of these individuals; the story of Sher Ali.  

Sher Ali close up
14 year old Sher Ali is one of the millions who has had his life affected


Sher Ali’s story

When flood waters caused by heavy monsoonal rain surged down the usually calm river beside 14 year old Sher Ali’s home, his house and all his belongings were washed away. The family lost their maize and wheat crop. The tomb of his father, who passed away a year ago, was destroyed.

The flood also washed away irrigation channels, our mosque, and the bridge that connects our community to the Besham road,” Sher Ali told staff from Caritas Australia’s local partner, Catholic Relief Services.  

“The flood also washed away irrigation channels, our mosque, and the bridge that connects our community to the Besham road,” Sher Ali told staff from Caritas Australia’s local partner in Pakistan, Catholic Relief Services (CRS).


The main bridge previously connected the community to the regional market place, where they purchased food.

“Before the flood it took 15 to 20 minutes in a car to get to Besham; after the flood it takes up to 1.5 hours. In order to take the road to Besham you must use a zip lines to get across the raging river. If one decides to take the other route it take up to 2.5 hours to get to Besham.

While delivering humanitarian assistance on the ground, the CRS team met Sher Ali. The team was distributing relief kits to flood affected residents of Besham and surrounding communities in Northern Pakistan and Sher Ali collected a kit for his family.The CRS team found Sher Ali again when they visited Tangeer, a small village nestled in the foothills near a once calm river. 


After three hours of hiking through rugged mountain terrain under a hot sun the CRS team sat with Sher Ali under a tree, drinking tea while he told them his family’s story.


When the floodwaters came, the family escaped to higher ground for two nights with nothing more than the clothes on their backs. Now his family is now staying in his uncle’s house hold with 11 other family members.


Sher Ali is the sole provider for his family of nine, including his mother.


 “My father had an accident a year ago and died,” he said.


“He used to provide everything for our family and now I must provide for my family. After his death I had to drop out of school and find a job.”


Before the floods, Sher Ali worked at a nearby chicken farm and orchard helping feed the chickens and watering the trees. Both farms were washed away by the floods leaving Sher Ali without a job and without an income to support his family.

As a result Sher Ali is finding it hard to provide for his family. Sher Ali received a non-food item (NFI) kit from CRS, including house hold items like pots and pans, a water cooler, soap and other important items. Sher Ali says that the kit has made a huge difference to their living conditions.

“We lost all of our kitchen utensils and it was difficult to cook and eat,” he said.

With the kitchen utensils provided in the NFI kit we can now prepare our food and eat. The plastic sheet, water cooler and soap were the most important items we received.

“When it rained yesterday we had to use the plastic sheet to take cover and the cooler helps us store and keep our water clean. We need food and shelter now .”

Sher Ali and his family’s story is one of millions. An estimated 20 million people, almost the entire population of Australia, have been affected, with the United Nations saying that 8 million people need urgent assistance.

Caritas Australia, through its local partners on the ground are working to bring immediate relief to those suffering.The floods in Pakistan have devastated the lives of families, destroyed whole villages, ruined a vast number of crops and orchards and washed away vital road and sanitation infrastructure.

Makeshift camps across the country are full of displaced people who urgently need food, water and sanitation. There are fears that the death toll will rise from malnutrition, especially in children and the elderly, and from water borne diseases.

Despite the devastation, Sher Ali  is hopeful that he will be able to find another job and support his family.  You can help Sher Ali and millions of people like him, by donating to the Caritas Australia South Asian Floods Appeal – Pakistan.


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Tags: Caritas   Pakistan   Floods   special appeal