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Sheltering Pakistan's Displaced Families

By Laura Sheahen

In early May 2009, bombs started falling in cities in northern Pakistan. Millions of people fled their homes to escape the intense fighting. Most ended up in camps, public buildings such as schools, or outbuildings of host families farther south.

To combat the overcrowded and unsanitary conditions, Catholic Relief Services quickly began distributing materials, like bamboo poles and thatch to construct shelters. We also built latrine and washing areas and gave out sleeping mats, soap and plastic sheeting. Because many of the displaced families follow Pashto traditions in keeping women's living areas private, CRS adapted building plans to ensure privacy, including secluded access to washing areas.

As displaced families return to their homes in the north, CRS will focus on helping them earn money to make it through the winter. "The plan is to give impoverished people what they need to rebuild their livelihoods, whether that be seeds, animals or something else," says Noah Zahrobsky, head of programming for CRS Pakistan. "We want to help them get back on their feet."

Click through this gallery to see the first wave of CRS' response to the crisis.

Photos by Laura Sheahen/CRS unless otherwise noted.

Laura Sheahen is CRS' regional information officer for Asia and the Pacific Rim. She is based in Cambodia.

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