Traveling almost 250 miles to remote areas of Pakistan, filmmaker Alizeh Imtiaz photographed intimate portraits of locals affected by the country’s worst deluge in 80 years. “I took my camera in these rough conditions. I spent four or five days in the area so I could get to know the people,” Imtiaz said. “I wanted to stay so people could see the desperation and devastation.”
Her aim is to go to places that are not getting aid. The Karachi resident gathers donations and works independently with friends to visit remote towns and bring supplies to flood victims.
“These areas I went to, no other media or NGO had been there,” she said. “They were quite surprised to see us in the first place. If we gave them medicine, we had to tell them how to take it. They had never seen bottles of water before.”
The 23-year-old described seeing families of eight crowding into makeshift tent villages along the Soomra Panwari riverbank. Some lucky families moved into nearby government schools. None of these people wanted to vacate – they wanted to keep an eye on their inundated homes.
Imtiaz says the Indus River is normally 1.2 miles wide but persistent rains have overwhelmed the area. The river has swelled to almost 25 miles wide, submerging many homes and fields.
“It was like a nightmare in Venice. The infrastructure has been completely wiped out. You can not tell where one person’s land ends and where another’s begins.”
While Pakistanis have been generous in donations to flood disaster relief during the holy month of Ramadan, Imtiaz worries about the future. Once flood waters recede, she fears people will forget about the homeless who will need to rebuild.
“This is a very long-term problem,” she said. “What I am worried about will people get the attention in the next years. It’s also about two years down the line that people will be given land to call home.”
Imtiaz plans to keep visiting other remote, hard-hit areas of the country where aid hasn’t been dispersed. Her photographs tell a very personal story right from the flood zone.
Do you have a personal story from the Pakistan floods? We’d be curious to hear more about how you’ve been affected by the natural disaster – CNN