Hamida Begum

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.

Link to ‘Stories from Bangladesh’.