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It all began in mid-July with the annual monsoon rains and seasonal prevailing winds in the northwest part of Pakistan. These copious downpours eventually led to the worst flooding in the nation's history, affecting a larger area than the entire country of England.

The waters continued to move downward, causing thousands to evacuate their homes. In all, nearly 20 million people (about the population of New York State) have been impacted by the flooding.

Eight million people are now in dire straits, and approximately 5 million of those have lost their homes. Death tolls keep rising, but the disaster has already killed about 1,600 people. These floods have really changed the lives of children of all ages throughout the country.

Pakistan is a poor country, and the majority of the people are poverty-stricken. This is why the floods have taken a heavy toll. Many of the houses that were destroyed were not sturdy. Families nationwide live in mud houses that cannot withstand heavy waters. Many families were stranded or had to be rescued from rooftops.

Most of my father's family lives in Pakistan. My 20-year-old cousin, Amrah Khan, lives in Karachi, the largest city in Pakistan, where she is currently studying. Her family lives the life of the rich, especially compared to the rest of the population. Karachi is located on the southern border.

Even though the floods did not directly impact Amrah, she has witnessed the pain and suffering of families whose lives were altered by the natural disaster.

"The homes of my servants' families who used to live in the village have been washed away by the horrible floods, and now they have absolutely nothing," said Amrah.

"The floods will affect our economy badly as Pakistan is an agricultural-based country," she said. "All our fields have been washed away, and now our exports, such as rice, will now decline.

"In addition, all the food brought into the cities has been given to the victims, which will result in the shortage of food for people living in the cities, like us," she added. "We are expecting a drastic increase in the price of food. The whole world was already going though a recession, and now, when Pakistan was finally on the path to recovery, a natural disaster has prolonged the country's growth."

Amrah said the sudden migration from the rural areas to urban cities, like Karachi, will create more crime and unrest.

Mehwish Fawad Khan, 16, is another one of my cousins who currently in the 12th grade in Karachi.

"It is very devastating to hear about the losses that our fellow Pakistanis are facing," Mehwish said. "As a teenager I am overwhelmed with emotions. All the death of young children just like me who are now homeless and facing severe sickness makes me feel heavy-hearted."

She added that Pakistani children who survived the flooding now live in miserable conditions, and water-borne diseases, like cholera, are common. Cholera, an infectious and often fatal disease of the small intestine, is typically contracted from infected water supplies. It causes severe diarrhea and vomiting.

Amrah and Mehwish disagree on how their government is handling the situation in Pakistan.

"To be honest, no government in the world can handle this devastation that we have been struck with," said Amrah.

She says it is very difficult for the government to reach out to all the people who have been affected by the floods because the transportation system has been blocked. However, she said, the flood victims can be reached by airplanes and helicopters, thanks to the Pakistani army.

Mehwish believes that since Pakistan is a third-world country and is facing financial problems, she is not aware as to the extent the government is helping. She says she believes the Pakistani government is somewhat corrupt and cannot be trusted.

"It is quite clear that foreign aid from several other countries, like the United States, are contributing more than our government," said Mehwish.

However, Mehwish and Amrah agree on one thing: The recovery is far from over, and it will take years to fully rebuild millions of lives and the deteriorating economy.

Michael Khan is a freshman at Canisius High School.