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2008 Floods in Pakistan



First baby born in IDP camp

© UNICEF/Shams/CL_00015
The new born baby with his parents

By Shamsuddin Ahmed

Communication Officer UNICEF, Shamsuddin Ahmed shares a family’s moment of joy when a child is born in the difficult circumstances of an internally displaced people’s (IDP’s) camp in Pakistan’s earthquake affected area.

Today Niamat Jaan, 45 is bursting with joy. In the early hours, a few minutes after 2 am his wife, Rafina Bibi, 25 gave birth to a baby boy.  “You are the first mother of the camp. We will take special care of you and your baby,” Sharmeen Kamal, the Lady Health Worker (LHW) who assisted her delivery tells her.

As an LHW deployed to work in the relief camps where some 160,000 are now living in the wake of Pakistan’s huge earthquake, one of Sharmeen’s responsibilities is keeping a record of all the pregnant women living in the tents. She notes, “At present there are eighteen pregnant women in this camp who are receiving medical and pre-natal care. We have our own LHW tent where the UNICEF drugs and supplies are stored, and there’s a field hospital nearby where we can refer any birth complications.”

Part of a great movement of displaced people all over the affected area, the couple came to the camp ten days after the disaster struck their village on October 8. Niamat’s shop was flattened; he had no savings to rebuild it soon, and he felt it was impossible for the family to survive on their reserves of food.

Rafina’s time of delivery was also approaching fast. She had been seriously injured when the quake struck their house, trapped under the fallen roof for more than an hour, her collarbone and a right rib broken. With the help of neighbours, Niamat managed to rescue her from the rubble, even though his own leg was fractured. Rafina’s mother, staying with them to assist with the birth, was also hurt – but in this family at least, none died.

“The baby’s arrival time was not exactly ideal”, said Niamat, who lies swathed in blankets on a mattress on the floor of their tent.  “But a child is Allah’s gift. He chooses His own time to bless human beings.” 

Rafina is sleeping soundly now after the safe delivery of the child. Earlier though, she had complained about the cold, saying “Dewdrops from the roof of the tent were falling on to me while I was being delivered. There is no heating in these tents - the boy may catch cold any time.” Sharmeen Kamal reassures her and tells her she’ll be provided with warm clothing for the baby and that the camp doctor will visit her in a very short time.



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