When The Waters Came

Shahidul Alam

Bangladesh’s 1988 floods documented by the founder of Drik photographic agency, the work was first shown at Side Gallery as part of its series of NOW exhibitions.

The worst floods in the country’s history, Alam documented them on assignment from CONCERN, CARE (USA) and MCC (Mennonites Central Committee). Some show the flood at its worst, some the distribution camps set up in the Mymensingh district, and others the after-effect of the floods in Tangail. There were positive aspects to the flood too. For example, local school children set up a distribution camp entirely on their own initiative, baking bread themselves. Sufi, an orphan girl who would have been left out of the distribution list (wheat was only being given to parents in that particular camp) was temporarily adopted by a mother. These photographs are not so much of a flood as of an unfortunate but proud people with a stubborn will to survive.

All images © Shahidul Alam

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