Beauty and tragedy in Pakistan's floods

Amid the devastation, tales of heroism spark hope in country's most vulnerable areas.

    It's an odd feeling to be surrounded by water, when you should be in the middle of a field.

    In southern Pakistan lies a small village called Rahimabad. It is so remote and tucked away, if you blinked you would miss it.

    Now it's completely submerged in water. At dusk when the sun hits the flood waters the reflection paints an orangey hue. It's simply stunning. And tragic.

    Stunning in the beauty of that sunlit moment, tragic in that Rahimabad's villagers are homeless due to the floods, children are starving and adults despondent.

    This is something I have trouble reconciling. As I bob up and down in a rickety boat on the water, I hear nothing.

    There's no sound of the call to prayer, no tractor pulling wheat, no children running wild.

    The only sound is birdsong.

    Yet in that peace, that beauty, you realise it's a moment you can't enjoy.

    Hope after tragedy

    The boat ride from Rahimabad to Sukkur, where I am based, takes three hours. In those three hours, each one of my travelling companions would gaze out upon the water and have the same thought: How can such beauty come from such tragedy?

    Each one of my travelling companions checks themselves. Ultimately such sunsets cannot be beautiful.

    But in this tragedy there is hope. That's important.

    I leave the south of Pakistan today.

    I leave behind four million people affected by the floods in the south of this country alone.

    I leave behind haunting imagery of babies fainting in the heat, young girls the same age as my daughters, who have no clue why their lives have been ripped apart.

    But I also leave behind small moments of hope, such as the many tales of heroism from communities so moved by the crisis they took action to help the most vulnerable.

    They didn't wait for aid agencies, the government or for the United Nations. They acted out of love.

    It's moments like those that allow you to glimpse a better future - that the misery faced by millions can and will be alleviated. At least you dare to hope that it will.

    It's an awful thing to see beauty in tragedy.

    But to see hope in the darkest of hours, is truly bliss.

    I will return in a couple of weeks.

    I have no idea what awaits me when I do, but I carry hope with me.


    Survivor stories from Super Typhoon Haiyan

    Survivor stories from Super Typhoon Haiyan

    The Philippines’ Typhoon Haiyan was the strongest storm ever to make landfall. Five years on, we revisit this story.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    We Are Still Here: A Story from Native Alaska

    We Are Still Here: A Story from Native Alaska

    From Qatar to Alaska, a personal journey exploring what it means to belong when your culture is endangered.