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Cyclone and life of Reshma

  • Sun Online Desk
  • 14th November, 2021 04:05:31 PM
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Cyclone and life of Reshma
Photo courtesy: WaterAid

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“See, I’m blind, but I’m not deaf.”

“When I hear the thundering storm or the cyclones, I’m scared for my life. I hear people screaming, things falling apart. I know something terrible is happening, I can’t see it but I’m living it.”

Reshma Khatun and her family live in a climate change hotspot in Bangladesh: Ward no. 3, Kurikahniya, Pratapnagar, Assasuni, Shatkhira. 

Every year the area suffers heavily from frequent climate-impacts such as cyclones, storm surges, and heavy rainfalls causing extreme waterlogging, scarcity of food and drinking water, and damaging infrastructures.  Reshma is one of 376 children and adolescents with various disabilities in their community. These climate-impacts affect them the most. Those with special needs already require the aid of others, but in a climate hot spot, the others can barely aid themselves. With mobility restrictions, they are particularly susceptible. Living with physical and mental challenges is difficult enough to cope with; the negative impacts of climate change only worsen their situation.

Photo courtesy: WaterAid

“My daughter was born with underdeveloped pupils. Given our condition, we could not provide the necessary medical treatment needed during her childhood. As her father is bedridden, and her brother is usually out fishing, there is no one else to look after her. I take care of all her sanitation and hygiene needs,” says Monowara Begum, Reshma’s mother. 

“Before, I used to take her to the local pond for bathing and cleaning. Thinking people are looking at her, she would often feel uncomfortable. To ensure her privacy, we used up all our savings and installed a tube-well to bathe and clean freely in the front yard.”

“But when waterlogging and heavy rainfall occur, we get stuck with water everywhere. Our roads get muddy, and we can barely move around. It becomes too dangerous for her and makes her uneasy. I try to teach her small things like sewing a mat with bamboo cones or walk inside the home on her own. Still, that is not enough. I feel helpless wondering how she will manage through such periods of crisis when I will not be alive anymore”, she continued.