Monday, July 15, 2024
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Brunei Town

Miracle on the water

INDIA (AP) – A blue tarp covered a mother and her newborn daughter from the incessant rain on their boat journey. Jahanara Khatoon, 25, had just given birth on the boat on their way to a healthcare centre, surrounded by the raging floodwaters of the Brahmaputra River.

“I am very happy,” said her husband, Kamaluddin, who was also on the boat. “My wife wanted a boy, but Allah the Almighty has given me a girl and I’m very satisfied. I don’t want to have any more children.”

The couple had left their home on Phuliamari Char, one of the islands in the river, after it was inundated by floodwaters, taking shelter on a nearby island known as Chars.

Increased rainfall in the region blamed on climate change has made the Brahmaputra River – already known for its powerful, unpredictable flow – even more dangerous for those who live near it or on the more than 2,000 islands in it.

India, and Assam state in particular, is seen as one of the world’s most vulnerable regions to climate change because of increasingly intense rain and floods, according to a 2021 report by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water, a New Delhi-based climate think tank.

ABOVE & BELOW: Photos show Jahanara Khatoon, 25, who is at full-term pregnancy, travels on a boat on her way to a health centre; midwife Diluwara Begum holds up a newborn baby after helping in her delivery on a boat; and a member of a medical team holds up the hand of Kamaluddin as they celebrate the successful delivery of his newborn baby girl on a boat on her way to a health centre, over the River Brahmaputra, in the northeastern Indian state of Assam. PHOTO: AP
ABOVE & BELOW: Midwife Diluwara Begum whispers prayers into the ear of a newborn baby she helped deliver on a boat; and health officers hold up a tarpaulin to cover 25-year-old Jahanara Khatoon as she delivers a baby on a boat. PHOTO: AP

Khatoon and Kamaluddin earn their living as farmers on their island in Assam state’s Morigaon district.

A medical team was visiting flooded Chars to aid those who needed medical help, especially pregnant women. The team convinced Khatoon to travel with them to the nearest medical facility across the river.

The baby couldn’t wait for Khatoon to get to the healthcare centre. As her labour progressed, the team on the boat quickly got to work, holding up a tarp to protect from the rain as they helped with the delivery. Within 10 minutes the baby emerged to shouts of celebration.

Diluwara Begum, an auxiliary nurse and midwife, lifted the newborn and whispered prayers into her ears.

“This was my first time helping deliver a baby on a boat. It was a very different feeling. It feels good,” she said.

The family has named the baby Karima, which means “Giving.” – Anupam Nath