At least 78 dead, over a thousand injured, more than 2,000 cities and towns that are completely or partially flooded, ten million affected, two million in need of humanitarian aid, over 14,000 kilometers of traffic routes have been damaged and 725 bridges have been torn down. These are a few figures on one of the most devastating flood disasters in Iran in recent decades. 25 of the country's 31 existing provinces experienced flooding from March to May.
When I returned to Iran at the end of July, the situation in many parts of the country was still staggering. Natural disasters like these, wherever they take place in the world, mark the affected region for a longer period of time. To make matters worse, the government is completely overwhelmed and the responsibility is shifted back and forth between different organs.
Together with Hamid, where we had already stayed for a few days during our road trip, I made my way to Pol-e Dochtar in the province of Lorestan in western Iran. While Hamid was supposed to practice there for a day as a radiologist, my day was packed with getting an idea of the current situation on site at over 40 degrees in the shade. The city was one of the worst hit a few months ago, so I didn't have to be shown around by an acquaintance of Hamid for long to become aware of the suffering of the people and the damage to roads and buildings. The closer we approached the river, which was already running normally again, the more mountains of rubble piled up in the alleys and in front of the ruins of the houses.
We sought dialogue with many affected families to find out what would help them the most. Since large groups of people gathered around the car as soon as we stopped, it quickly turned out that once again not everyone could be helped and you had to pick a handful. These are the hardest decisions to make. How do you know which family needs help more than others? How exactly do you determine how much a family suffers and how needy it is? Where do you draw a line between "it is enough to cope" and "the living conditions are unworthy"?
Since the food supply was given and we are of the opinion that it would be better to help a handful of families intensively than to pay everyone 3 bags of rice in a street, we decided to give preference to the families, which on the one hand contain very old family members and on the other hand have to care for a large number of children and toddlers.
In the end, we took € 1,194.83 in hand to equip 6 families with a new carpet. This may sound strange for a moment, why such a carpet is an enrichment, so let me explain it to you briefly. The Iranian houses and apartments are usually very simple and spartan built and furnished. They consist of a large room, which usually contains the cooking line and in which the entire everyday life takes place, as well as a bathroom. In rare cases, there is another room. This large room thus serves as the bedroom of the whole family, thus also as a children's room, but also as a living room as well as a kitchen and dining room. At the center of this room are those carpets that Travel for Smiles was able to finance for the affected families through your donations. Since there is hardly any furniture in the households and the little that the families had been destroyed by the flood, these carpets serve as a mattress for sleeping, during the day as a couch to relax, as a playground for the children and as a table where people eat. So it is the place where the family comes together and that makes a house or apartment a home.
We are very pleased that we were able to ensure through your financial support that six families affected by this disaster now have a more beautiful home.