Sie sind hier

#Action4SD

Newsfeed #Action4SD abonnieren
Focused on civil society´s engagement in the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement
Aktualisiert: vor 6 Stunden 11 Minuten

Tamana

12. September 2018 - 1:52

Rubina
Photo location: Dhaka, Bangladesh

We woke up in terror after the roof of our house was swept away, and moments later we were chest deep in rising waters. The water came in so quickly and it got so high it almost reached the ceiling of our house. My parents jumped into the water to try to save the cattle but could not. We lost everything in the cyclone. We escaped with just our lives from there seven years ago. 

There were between 100 and 150 families along the riverbank. All their homes were washed away just like ours. We lost everything. We lost our boats, our cattle, and our land was flooded with salt water. All the land is under water now. We had to move very quickly and we couldn’t take anything except the clothes we were wearing. We were left with nothing just like refugees. Today, boats pass over the place where our land was; where I spent all my childhood like a dream.

I started my job as a sex worker seven years ago here in Dhaka city, when my mother committed suicide for the unbearable pain and my father fled leaving me to look after my four siblings. My little sisters and brothers don’t know what I do till midnight. Sometimes it’s very hard to explain to them why I can’t return at night to them. But this is the only job I could find that would allow me to feed my family. They wait the whole night for me so that I am there to hold them besides me while we all sleep. My only aim now is to feed my siblings and give them a better life. Seeing them going to school everyday fills me with a lot of pride. I can take care of them till the evening, after that they take care of each other.

I have been pregnant several times and have had to have abortions. I always prayed to God, “Please don’t allow this pain to happen to even my worst enemy”.

Link to ‘Stories from Bangladesh’. 

Stories from Bangladesh – climate migration

8. September 2018 - 23:42

Ruby Begum (Dhaka): I have always known that ‘water is life’ but this water has been killing us for the last 10 years. This water never gives us any peace. I am from a coastal village. We moved here because of yearly river erosion. If there is a fire in your house, only the house gets burned; the land remains.  But when there is river erosion, everything is lost. Read her story.

 

Rohomot Ali (Dhaka): My wife is probably not going to live much longer and I am a helpless and unable to do anything for her. I had to leave the woman with whom I have been living for 50 years alone in that dead drought place. I came here to earn money so that I can send some money to feed her and buy her medicine. I was a farmer with land. We used to have happy and beautiful days before the drought.  Read his story.

Hasina Begum (Bramanbaria):  A thousand words are not enough to describe my life and what I have been facing in this cursed land. We were born with the fate of victims. God gave cursed lives to those who were born in these northern coastal areas near the Sundarbans. He gave us nothing except sorrow and distress.  We live on government land. Every year, over and over again, a cyclone sweeps away everything that we were trying to build through the year. Read her story.

Kala Chan (Sariya kandi, Bogura): I was the owner of 116 bighas of land in our village beside the beautiful river Ganga. Every year we face greater erosion. One hundred bighas of my land is now under water and I divided 16 bighas of land between my eight children.  We have lost our home 14 times due to river erosion; this is my 15th house. Read their story.

Hamida Begum (Gabura, Sathkhira): She doesn’t go to school anymore. For us, collecting water is more important than going to school now. We old people used to go to school but this new generation is becoming uneducated. But you know ; education only helps when you don’t have to suffer for basic needs like food and water. Now staying alive every day is the biggest fight in our life. Read her story.

Shaha Ali (Sariya kandi, Bogura): I poured my sweat and blood into building my house. I did it with my own hands. My wife and I worked hard every day so that we could make a home where we dreamed we could see out our daysl. Our children grew up there just like in our dreams. After so many years, one day like a nightmare, the river Jamuna took away our house. We never thought the river could come that close. Read his story.

Salina Begum (Dhaka): We came to Dhaka from Gabura, Munshiganj, in the Sathkhira area two months ago and now we are living on the streets. There was nothing left in our area except hunger and uncertain livelihoods - we were surrounded by salty water and drought ravaged lands. In order to come here, I had to I had to sell my only pair of gold rings that I got from my mother-in-law which is a symbol prestige and value in our family.  Read her story.

Morjina Begum (Tangaial):  My entire life had been spent on an island on the Brahmaputra River. I had never seen any vehicles in my 35 years of life, except for boats, ox carts and horse carts. Like me hundreds of women from these islands had never seen any modern vehicles. The men of the islands went out for necessary things but women didn’t need to go anywhere. I, myself, never imagined a city life could look like this. Read her story.

Arif (Dhaka): For the last five years I have been working in this factory with my father. There is a lot of noise, and a lot of chemicals and dust that makes my work very difficult. It's a kind of hell full of loud disturbing sounds, fiery heat and clouds of toxic dust. But this is the only work we have in this area. All these factories are making wheels for ships. Lots of people working here are from the same village that I came from. Read his story.

Ashma Begum (Chilmary): After the flood, I lost my house for the sixth time because the river eroded. I sold my cattle and everything I had in order to rebuild my shelter last year. This year there was another devastating flood which destroyed my house again, and now staying here is another nightmare. I have no idea how I will manage to pay back all my loans while spending nights in this smashed-up house with my children.  We have been starving most of this last week. Read her story.

Fatema Begum (Voirob): For my one and only wrong decision, I lost my whole family in the horrifying 15 November Cyclone Sidr. I don’t know what I should call it - good luck or bad luck.  I am the only one in my family to have survived by holding onto the last tree in our village. I can’t forget how the next morning I was searching for my loved ones and lining up the dead bodies one by one. I lost my two daughters, my only son and my husband that night. Read  her story.

Hamida Begum  (Jessore, Bangladesh):  I never thought even in my worst dreams that I would have to leave my land and move to Dhaka – but this is what I am about to do. But what we want is never always that which happens. I don't know how I will live there in one restricted tiny room after living in my open-spaced village here. How will I breathe in that blocked room? But it is also not possible to live here in my village anymore. Read her story.

Hasina Begum (Bramanbaria): I can't make you understand what a big sin I have committed. I don't know if Allah will forgive me or not but I am sure my child will not forgive me. My family members will not forgive me as I can’t forgive myself.  I had to sell my 6-year-old son to a man in order to survive with my other two children and my husband. To save 4 more lives, I had to make the most devastating decision of my life. Read her story.

Khodeja (Hatiya)
Last night my five hungry children were freezing in the cold. To fight the chilly wind we embraced each other and their father kept reciting the Quran. We fear the future and fight for today. If my husband can catch a fish, we can survive another day. Read her story.

Nurjahan Begum (Narayanganj):  When danger comes, it comes in every conceivable way. Who would have thought that we would have to work here in this dirty dump yard? Fate has dragged me here. I am from a respectable family. Women of our family never used to work outside of the home ever. Now I work here with my whole family. After cyclone Sidr, we were trying to fix our house but another cyclone, Aila, took the rest of it.  Read her story.

Parvin Akter (Ashuganj): We have been born with the fate of uncertainty. Every year we live, we live with the power of our fate. As each year passes by and we count ourselves fortunate; we count each new breath as good luck. The year of Cyclone Aila in 2009 was the curse of my life. We lost the only tree over our head. I lost my husband in the cyclone. No one could find the body of my husband for us to see him for one last time. Can you imagine how unfortunate we have been? Read their story.

Rita Begum (Dhaka): In 2010 the flooding was so sudden that it left us with a shore. We survived for four days on the top of the but the next day, it too was underwater. After searching madly for a whole day for banana trees, my husband finally found five trees to make a raft. We tied it to our hut so that it did not float away and we moved our essentials onto the raft. I never imagined that on this night my life was going to change forever. Read her story.

Bilkis (Sariya kandi, Bogura): Sometimes it's the journey that teaches you a lot about your destination. I am Bilkis and come from a slum in Dhaka city. I used to work in a factory with my husband. I fell in love with him and I fled here with him eight years ago. For the last eight years I have seen a very different world, full of the hardships of the people on this island. Many times my husband told me he wanted me to return to the city again.  Read her story.

Khairul Mia (Shamnagar, Sathkhira): I was a hawker of girls cosmetics in our village and married a beautiful happy girl who I fell in love with the first day I saw her. Twenty years before we were married she used to be one of my regular customers. She fell in love with me unconditionally and married me after dealing with a lot of problems with her family.  Read their story.

(function ( $ ) { "use strict"; $(function () { var masterslider_11a5 = new MasterSlider(); // slider controls masterslider_11a5.control('arrows' ,{ autohide:false, overVideo:true }); masterslider_11a5.control('bullets' ,{ autohide:true, overVideo:true, dir:'h', align:'bottom' , margin:10 }); masterslider_11a5.control('scrollbar' ,{ autohide:false, overVideo:true, dir:'h', inset:true, align:'top', color:'#3D3D3D' , margin:10 , width:4 }); masterslider_11a5.control('slideinfo' ,{ autohide:false, overVideo:true, dir:'v', align:'right',inset:false , margin:10 , size:250 }); // slider setup masterslider_11a5.setup("MS5b953f8b211a5", { width : 800, height : 480, minHeight : 0, space : 0, start : 1, grabCursor : true, swipe : true, mouse : true, layout : "boxed", wheel : false, autoplay : false, instantStartLayers:false, loop : false, shuffle : false, preload : 0, heightLimit : true, autoHeight : false, smoothHeight : true, endPause : false, overPause : true, fillMode : "fill", centerControls : true, startOnAppear : false, layersMode : "center", hideLayers : false, fullscreenMargin: 0, speed : 20, dir : "h", parallaxMode : 'swipe', view : "basic" }); window.masterslider_instances = window.masterslider_instances || []; window.masterslider_instances.push( masterslider_11a5 ); }); })(jQuery);

In 2018, two global agreements – one focused on the protection of refugees and the other on migration – are in the final stages of negotiation between governments, under the auspices of the United Nations.  Each offers a rare opportunity to protect migrants from one of the biggest sources of displacement today – climate change.

While the UN recognises that climate change is a cause for migration, countries are under no legal obligation to protect the rights of those affected by its consequences.

Through the following twenty stories and photos  by renowned photographer GMB Akash, we are taken into the lives of mainly Bangladeshi women who are survivors of climate-induced migration. It is the ultimate display of human resistance.   

Over the next few decades, scientists expect 17 percent of the country’s land to be submerged, and 18 million Bangladeshis to be displaced by  seas. The country regularly suffers from deadly and devastating flooding, tropical cyclones, storm surges and droughts.

When a land that has been a people’s home for centuries disappears or becomes uninhabitable, through no fault of those who live there, what choices do they have and where can they go? These are questions that the international community currently have no answers for—and that’s neither fair nor just.  

GMB Akash has a social media following of over half a million, has received more than 100 international awards and his work has been featured in over 100 major international publications.

The photo series was produced under the auspices of CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation and an international coalition of 400 civil society groups campaigning for UN member states to recognise climate change as a key cause of displacement and a driver of migration. The UN will adopt its historic global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration in December 2018.

 

 

Khodeja

5. September 2018 - 5:17

Khodeja
Photo Location: Hatiya, Bangladesh

My children ask me all the time why we have to move from one island to another. I have no answer.  I also ask Allah the same question every day. My home has been taken by the river six times. A few days ago, we moved to this island and made our seventh home. On this remote island my husband can go only fish. Last night my five hungry children were freezing in the cold. To fight the chilly wind we embraced each other and their father kept reciting the Quran. If my husband can catch a fish, we can survive another day.

We fear the future and fight for today. As we are poor we don’t know what we will eat the next day. We had some land from where we used to get some paddy every year. But this year it is now in the middle of the river. We have no hope for paddy or rice this year.. Only for the grace of Allah we don’t have the problem of drinking water. For many days we have been only drinking water from the river to survive.

The river took everything from us; now we have nothing left. How can I make you understand how we are living our unbearable lives every day? I was so fond of my village from my childhood once, but this cursed land and cruel river is killing me and my family every day. I don’t want to live on this land anymore; not for a single day. But I have nowhere to go; I have not a single penny to move from this cursed land. On this island only two families live with us and they are also surviving like we are surviving; fighting all odds.

There is not a single person to help me. I wanted a loan from one of my brothers who lives outside of this town who came to visit us last year. But he refused to help; saying he is also having a lot of problems and he didn’t believe that I could refund his loan! He asked “how you will refund my money?” I could not answer his question!

No one believes in poor people, not even the brother from the same mother.

I feel hopeless as hell nowadays. I have never gone anywhere away from this land and don’t know what I could do to survive with my whole family. I am in the middle of nowhere and finding no way to get out of this problem.

When my children get sick sometimes, except for crying and asking help from God, I can’t do anything for them. I don’t know how many days we can live here like this? How many days we can live hungry and fight this hostile nature and weather. I don’t know how our miserable days will end or if it will ever end or not! 

 

Rita Begum

5. September 2018 - 4:58

 

Rita Begum
Photo location: Dhaka, Bangladesh

We were the people from north Bengal and lived on the banks of the Brahmaputra River. Each year we were the first in the country to endure the flooding, before floods came to other parts of the country. 

We had become accustomed to flooding because we had experienced it all our lives and fought against the odds to every year. But in 2010 the flooding was so sudden that it left us with a shore. We survived for four days on the top of the but the next day, it too was underwater. After searching madly for a whole day for banana trees, my husband finally found five trees to make a raft. We tied it to our hut so that it did not float away and we moved our essentials onto the raft.

I never imagined that on this night my life was going to change forever. After finishing our dinner, we were resting on our raft sitting and holding each other so that we didn’t fall in the water. After doing a lot of work looking for materials and building the raft, we were tired. We were resting and I was breastfeeding our one and a half year-old girl. The whole night I was very concerned and was breastfeeding her for a long while. At the end of the night when it was almost dawn and I heard the sound of the azaan, I heard the sound of something falling into the water.  For just one second I had not thought about my child and the next moment she was no longer there.  I cried out wildly and jumped into the water. My husband also jumped in. We searched for her frantically. We were dipping in the water and crying loudly at the same time.  My husband was diving and calling her name “my Moyna, my Moyna, o Allah, my mother!” The current was so strong that it was pulling me away. After a while I fainted at the thought that I had lost my treasure, a baby that had taken seven years to conceive.  After that accident I became mentally-ill for five years. I had to have treatment in a mental hospital from 2010-2015. My mental health improved when I fell pregnant for the second time, 6 years later, but after Arafat  was born, I became scared I would lose my child again in the water. After seeing my mental condition, my husband brought me here by selling everything we had. 

There is nothing called poor persons ‘luck’ just as there is no guarantee of a poor person’s life. We came to this railway slum last year. Life became even more perilous here in the slum than in our flooded village. I can’t leave my son for a single second because  trains come and go every 10 minutes. There is nowhere to move to from here because this slum is the cheapest.

With the money we have we cannot go to any other slum. My husband works alone for us as a rickshaw driver. I cannot go to work – who will guard my son?  It does not matter if I do or don’t eat, but I can’t bear losing my child, my heart again.  If you haven’t gone through this, you wouldn’t understand the horrific pain when one loses that part of your heart. Life is hard for poor people when even nature treats us so poorly. It is nature that plays the most devastating role with poor people like us.  If this were not true then the floods would not have been so cruel as to take so much from me.

 

Morjina Begum

5. September 2018 - 4:46

Morjina Begum
Photo location: Tangaial, Bangladesh

My entire life had been spent on an island on the Brahmaputra River. I had never seen any vehicles in my 35 years of life, except for boats, ox carts and horse carts. Like me hundreds of women from these islands had never seen any modern vehicles. The men of the islands went out for necessary things but women didn’t need to go anywhere. I, myself, never imagined a city life could look like this. Last year for the first time I left my land in search of making a living with my complete family and came to Dhaka. We took out a loan to move here in the hope that our family could at least eat three meals a day. We had to rebuild our home 5 times before we decided it was time to move. Before coming here, we were surviving by eating a blend of wheat powder with river water once a day. Sometimes we ate a mix of rice and eggplant. If my husband could catch a fish from the river, it was royal food for my family.

I was born on the island of Shakhahatichor in Chilmari district, 400 miles away from Dhaka. Chilmari district has 6 unions, or councils but 4 out of 6 are now in the middle of the river. Our island is one of them. Life is becoming more difficult every year for the people of the islands. People are dying from starvation there. Nothing grows on our islands because of draught. People have nothing to do; no jobs for surviving. There are no agricultural activities for farmers. In recent decades our area has been afflicted by severe droughts. There were not many problems in the previous years because there was adequate water in the Brahmaputra River. Now the water does not flow. The mighty Brahmaputra is the lifeline for our agricultural and our domestic lives, but it is dying every day and taking thousands of lives with it. 

Thousands of islanders are facing a serious food crisis, natural disasters and temperature problems. Every year from mid-September through mid-November, this crisis is extreme. We called the period Mora Kartik, meaning the months of death and disaster. The last time we were there we couldn’t even stay in our hut because of the intolerable cold and wind. Now the season and weather have become unpredictable. Last winter my father died in his old age because he couldn’t tolerate the biting, painful cold any longer. My father used to say: “it’s so cold that tigers are shaking.” He is not the only one; lots of old people die every year from these conditions. During winter this place becomes unbearable yet during summer the heat feels like hell.

Even though we were hungry on our island, we never wanted to move to Dhaka. But we had nothing left but these two hands. Without food or a  job, these hands are incapable of feeding our mouths. So, I listened to my husband and come to Dhaka for work. My husband is a daily laborer and I work as a cook in a canteen where laborers eat every day. I have to work hard the whole day for 3000 taka and food for myself. Sometimes I can take some leftovers for my children. Life is very hard here too but at least we have opportunities for income. We can eat three times a day. My children don’t have to starve for food anymore. That is what I have wanted my whole life.

 

Hamida Begum

5. September 2018 - 4:41

Hamida Begum
Photo location: Jessore, Bangladesh

I never thought even in my worst dreams that I would have to leave my land and move to Dhaka – but this is what I am about to do. But what we want is never always that which happens. I don’t know how I will live there in one restricted tiny room after living in my open-spaced village here. How will I breathe in that blocked room? But it is also not possible to live here in my village anymore.  

My grandson Motaleb came from Dhaka last night to take me with him from this cursed village where I have been almost dying for the last 10 years. But I didn’t want to go to Dhaka or leave this place. My seven sons moved from our village after the severe cyclone searching for work and for living. We had a house of eight rooms. We were not a poor family but now you can call us beggars. We have nothing left after that extreme cyclone. That cyclone took thousands of people’s houses and lives. Everyone moved to different places from here.  Overnight middle class families became beggars.  

Luckily one of my sons saw a tide 8-10 feet high breaking a dam and coming right towards our house . He cried out, “We will die if we do not leave this place. Let’s leave the place”. We couldn’t take anything with us. We were holding trees with one hand and with their other hand hand my two sons helped me and saved my life. I saw everything was floating; cows, goats, ducks, chickens, trees, even people. Everything was floating away in front of me.  I can never forget this memory.

We are from the coastal area so I have seen a lot of cyclones during my lifetime of 70 years, but I never felt that worried. However, this time people were very worried. I have never seen this kind of destructive cyclone before. Usually water would come and go and we would mend the damage every year. But Cyclone Aila took everything from us. It is not possible for us to be like we were before.

My sons  tried to make me understand that nothing was left here for me to be able to live here alone. But I never accepted their fervid insistence and I did not want to leave my homeland where I have been living my whole life. However, it is now impossible for me to live here alone with a lack of available food and sweet water. Drought, frequent floods and storms as well as the barbaric torture of jungle animals have made my life hell, causing health problems for me. Last month I asked my elder son to take me with them. Today I am leaving my homeland forever at this old age taking every good and bad memory with me. I don’t know how many days I will live but I know even after my death I will not return to this land again.

 

Hamida Begum

5. September 2018 - 4:39

Hamida Begum
Photo location:  Gabura, Sathkhira, Bangladesh

She doesn’t go to school anymore. For us, collecting water is more important than going to school now. We old people used to go to school but this new generation is becoming uneducated. But you know ; education only helps when you don’t have to suffer for basic needs like food and water. Now staying alive every day is the biggest fight in our life.

Every day here in this coastal area we have to face different problems. But the biggest problem is the lack of life saving fresh water. Water is life and we have an abundance of water everywhere, but for a bucket of drinking water we have to travel miles and miles or cross this river. We don’t get adequate sweet water for drinking or to use for ourselves. Our kids are wasting all their time collecting water for their families. We cannot remember the last time we took a showered in fresh water. Fresh water is now the priceless treasure in our lives. I passed my SSC education, but my children are illiterate. Like mine all the children of our villagers are becoming illiterate only because the waste their time collecting water. School will not save their lives when they need drinking water to quench their thirst and that of their families. 

We are going to collect water. It takes a lot of time to reach the pond from where we collect water and then we have to line up for taking water from the pond which takes a lot more time and then return home. The pond is also getting drier day after day. Sometimes the owner of the pond doesn’t allow us to take water from there. We have another water source on our island which is a 12 mile walk. Our children are becoming sick and exhausted from collecting water every day from different places. 

Only during monsoons can we collect water easily from the roof of our house with thin plastic sheets. But monsoon season is also our biggest fear. Our house is just on the edge of the dam and every night we go to sleep afraid that it could disappear with a surge of water at anytime.  

We used to fish in fresh-water and earn enough to feed our family, but now there is nothing except salt water. It come inland up our rivers where it stagnates. We can’t earn enough money as there are no jobs. Salt water has devoured our place such that we can’t grow anything on our land. We can’t even raise cattle because they too need fresh water to drink. Our income source is low considering the situation of price hikes. I cannot buy any vegetables or meat for my 75-year-old mother or my children. We are becoming the workless and poor and beggars.  Our daily lives became a deserted life after the cyclone. Life seems so helpless here. Thousands of people are leaving this island because of these problems. But I can’t leave my elderly mother and she doesn’t want to leave this land. She would die starving and thirsty here but still she will not leave this land.

Khairul Mia

5. September 2018 - 4:37

Khairul Mia
Photo location: Shamnagar, Sathkhira, Bangladesh

I was a hawker of girls cosmetics in our village and married a beautiful happy girl who I fell in love with the first day I saw her. Twenty years before we were married she used to be one of my regular customers. She fell in love with me unconditionally and married me after dealing with a lot of problems with her family. 

I am a poor hawker man, who loves his wife and daughter with his full heart, but as people say, this doesn’t fill your stomach. It is very hard for me to see innumerable pins on my daughter’s slippers and holes upon holes in my wife’s sari. I feel hopeless as a failure when I can’t feed them three times a day, when I can’t manage school fees for my daughter and when I can’t buy new clothes for my family for the Eid festival. I couldn’t do anything for my family. But they never complained about anything because poor people get used to it, they know – no one can cope with the power of nature.

For the last six months we have been really worried about what will happen if we will lose our house and land again. Where we will live? How we will continue to survive? We already lost everything four times in the river due to river erosion. We continued to buy land beside the river because it is cheaper. 

This last time I was collecting money to buy land in order to make our home away from this village as we knew that the river would again sweep away everything we have and will show her unkindness.

But nature is more clever and has bigger plans than we poor people. Last week she took everything we had away again. This time it was so rapid and much crueler than before. I could not save anything, not even the money I was saving for my girl’s marriage, nor the money for buying the land on which we were planning to build our home.  I could not save my hawkers box which I have been carrying with me for 25 years; nor could I save my only fulcrum. We lost our crops, our cattle… everything. 

The night the flood hit one part of our village completely collapsed and was submerged in the river in front of our eyes . Before we understood what was happening, everything went under water. No one could save anything without losing their lives. We could just save our lives by running far away, holding hands with our family members. 

I don’t know how I have sinned that I am getting punished like this year after year. I don’t know where I will go with my young girl after being released from here. For the last two weeks we have been living here because of my wife’s sickness. My wife’s condition is getting worse day by day. I am a beggar now. And as a beggar, I am begging to my god to please not take my wife away from me. I just don’t want to lose her.

 

Kala Chan

5. September 2018 - 4:27

 

Kala Chan (100 years old)
Photo location: Sariya kandi, Bogura, Bangladesh

I was the owner of 116 bighas of land in our village beside the beautiful river Ganga. Every year we face greater erosion. One hundred bighas of my land is now under water and I divided 16 bighas of land between my eight children.  We have lost our home 14 times due to river erosion; this is my 15th house. It takes 2-3 hundred thousand taka to rebuild a house. When a person’s house burns down, at least they still have the land, but with river erosion you lose everything. Now I have nothing except my wife. The river is rising again. I don’t know where we will go if the river engulfs our last shelter in this situation.

 People used to call me ’Jowatdar’. Jowatdar means the the owner of the village. I used to buy the biggest fish from our village market. I’ve raised my kids like princes and princesses. I never made them do anything. Now they all have left this land in search of work in different cities because 16 bighas of land is not enough for eight families nowadays. I never imagined that my children would have to work under people and my wife and I would have to survive from that money. I used to have 10-12 working people in my home and a hundred people used to eat in my house every month. The hearth in my house was always aflame. My wife was busy cooking for poor people. She loved to feed the poor people of the village. Now every month we, ourselves, have to wait for the money from our children in order to survive. My heart weeps thinking of these things all the time. My wife can’t feed the poor because we are not anymore able to even to feed ourselves. My wife was very fond of our youngest grandson. Now she always cries for him [why?]. We were accustomed to dining together almost thrice a day but now I have to eat alone. It feels bad to eat alone. Animals eat alone; I feel like an animal when I sit to eat. 

My wife became paralyzed last year and our lives became harder to manage. I feed her and I am with her all the time. We have nothing except each other.  There is no one to take care of us except a woman my wife had been giving shelter for the last 40 years, after the poor lady lost her house in the river. I thank my God and my wife for showing kindness to that lady. Without this we would have died long ago. I am almost 100 years old and my wife is 85. We have seen a lot for one lifetime. I have seen how how a village owner can become a poor and helpless dependent! I have seen how love can become compassion and how life can change drastically if that is the will of nature!

 

Shaha Ali

5. September 2018 - 4:23

Shaha Ali
Photo location: Sariya kandi, Bogura, Bangladesh

I poured my sweat and blood into building my house. I did it with my own hands. My wife and I worked hard every day so that we could make a home where we dreamed we could see out our daysl. Our children grew up there just like in our dreams. After so many years, one day like a nightmare, the river Jamuna took away our house. We never thought the river could come that close. Now I have only memories and nowhere to live. Isn’t life the most unpredictable thing?

 Everything happened in front of my eyes. We could not save anything except our lives. My wife’s wedding sari, my cherished radio and years of treasured belongings all went to the river. I was stunned that night when the calamity hit us.

That house was everything for me. I was a simple farmer; my life and heart were rooted in that land. But now it is all in the river. Now I have nothing except a plastic shed where seven of us have been trying to make do for the last couple of months. Now even drinking water is a problem because my tube wall[clarify], which cost one year of income from my crops, is also gone in the river. Now we drink the river water. We don’t have a kitchen or toilet. We cook under the open sky.

It will cost more than than  two or three hundred thousand taka to build a new home. When I can’t even collect food for my my family to eat, this much money is now a dream. In order for all of us to eat, my children had to stop going to school and have started working as maids in a villager’s house with their mother. 

Though I know I will not get to return to my house,  every day I come to the riverbank and try to mark the spot where my lost home might be now. 

No one is coming to help people like us. It is getting worse every year. It’s a kind of war which has no value for anyone else other than the people who are fighting it and suffering every day for the rest of their lives.

Hasina Begum

5. September 2018 - 4:21

Hasina Begum
Photo Location: Bramanbaria , Bangladesh

A thousand words are not enough to describe my life and what I have been facing in this cursed land. We were born with the fate of victims. God gave cursed lives to those who were born in these northern coastal areas near the Sundarbans. He gave us nothing except sorrow and distress.  We live on government land. Every year, over and over again, a cyclone sweeps away everything that we were trying to build through the year. We do not possess fertile land to grow crops on.

To earn a living, people from our village go fishing or collect honey from the jungle. My husband used to fish in the forests of the Sundarbans. I lost him in that dangerous jungle five years ago. Lots of people get lost in that  jungle every year. I said to him thousands of times, “Please do not go in that hungry jungle.” But he never listened to me. That day, after starving the whole day, he got angry with me and asked, “Can you tell me how many days you can live without eating? Today I will fill my hungry stomach or the tiger will fill his stomach.” Then he left, taking his net with him. He never returned to us. Like me, lots of women from our village lost their husbands and sons. Many people could not return from the mouth of the hungry jungle filled with dangerous animals and pirates. Many women like me became widows. The local people refer to our village as ‘Widow Village.’

Our lives are more miserable than even anyone could imagine. God gave us nothing. We do not have a hut in which to sleep soundly every night with our daughters. Robbers and powerful wicked boys are the terror for the parents who have daughters in their homes. As far as the eyes can see, there is only water and water everywhere. But to quench our thirst with sweet drinking water, we have to cross a river and then walk dozens of miles every single day. This saline water is killing everything. The lands have become dry and now nothing grows here. The existing trees are dying because of salinity in the water and in the soil. We walk in a group when we go to collect water so that no one can harass the young women and girls.

I have two daughters. Like the dying leaves of the trees, my daughters are also turning pale without food and drinking water. The salt in the water is also robbing them of their beauty every day. My days are passing by only collecting water. I am so anxious when I come to collect water leaving my two daughters alone in my broken hut. We are living a penniless life fighting nature everyday against all odds. I don’t see a way out from this helpless life. I don’t know where to go and what to do. But I do desperately want to rescue my daughters’ lives and my life from this misery.