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India floods: No return…but hope lingers

Land and buildings have been left devastated by the heavy flooding

Two years ago, life was running smoothly for Rajkumar’s family, despite their financial problems. The Bhartis – parents and five children – lived in Kharadi village in Uttarkashi district, and if things were tough, there were good times nonetheless.

Now, everything has changed. Rajkumar, who is 12, and his mother and two sisters still live  in Kharadi but they are in a rented one-room house; his father  has gone to Bangalore and remarried. He took the other two girls, aged two and four, away with him. “I tried to stop my father but he slapped me and my mother very hard,” Rajkumar says.

Rajkumar’s family is one of many devastated by the flash floods in Uttarakhand. His mother, who worked in a  quarry for a meagre wage of 40-50 rupees (45p-55p) per day, is now unemployed. The floods have snatched their livelihood, leaving the family struggling to make ends meet. There are no opportunities for her to work as a daily labourer in their own village or in the nearby villages that are also suffering from the floods.

Rajkumar and his sisters used to go to the village school, for which they paid Rs. 275 (£3) a month. But the flood has completely destroyed their school building. Rajkumar, who the other children from the village call a ‘maths genius’, is particularly worried about his education. He loved going to school, which he strongly believes will bring him closer to realising his dreams. “I want to study very hard so that I can earn some money and go to Bangalore to bring back my father and my two sisters. I really miss them,” he says, teary-eyed.

The Bhartis are one of 130 families who received relief materials in Kharadi village, Barkot block, District Uttarkashi, Uttarakhand from Save the Children on June 24 & July 6, 2013.

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