Overlooked #5 The Arduous Test of Life

So a few weeks ago my sister told me about how she came across this piece about a family really struggling mentally and financially. I decided to investigate further and discovered the situation was a very grave one indeed and the family was in dire need of assistance.

We decided the best way to get a gauge of the seriousness was to go and meet the family first hand. Once we reached there, we started talking to their eldest daughter, trying get a feel of the household and it’s struggles. The family consisted of an elderly couple and their two daughters. The father, a 79-year-old man who used to drive taxis, had suffered from a paralytic stroke a few years back, and the family had struggled to make ends meet ever since. Even prior to the paralytic stroke, he had had a series of medical complications throughout his later years, including a heart attack, but they had been improved considerably when he was operated on by a local hospital (The operation paid for by the generosity of Sharjah TV).

Relief for the poor souls?

After the operation, the family experienced their first pleasant period in quite a while. However, this was not to be. The father was involved in a car accident which, unfortunately, undid a lot of the progress made through the operation. From that day to this day, the man has been in a brain-damaged state, barely talks, and is in a semi-paralytic state.

Eldest Daughter elaborates:

“Throughout the years after the accident, we really felt like all our work and headway had been for nothing and felt broken and shattered. To make matters worse, our father’s visa expired and every year we incur fines for living here illegally; The total penalty accumulated so far is AED 65 000 and we have no idea how we will even begin to pay back such a colossal amount. My sister and I work, but forget about paying the debt, we barely make enough to get by. I’ve only studied until the 8th grade and so I babysit the neighbor’s kids. After all, who would hire a girl with no educational background? My younger sister does a pick-and-drop of girl(s) from a college, and my mother sporadically sews clothes, but that is about it for the income our family generates.”

Options back home?

“We can’t leave this country and go back to Pakistan, as our house over there was destroyed in an earthquake. As of right now, the land and most of the nearby places are not inhabited by people due to the damage, leaving most of the land virtually worthless. I hate to to say it but we are indeed in dire need of assistance.”

Our proposal

As my brother understood the situation, he had a pretty clear idea of what needed to be done. He knew a few people who wanted to pay their Zakat (Charity) and would be able to get aid if we presented a suitable case to them. As we stood up to take our leave, My brother and I tried talking to the 79 year old man. He couldn’t say much, was sitting on a wheel chair, and could barely move, but when I suggested that he would get better once he took his medicine, he just calmly looked up towards the sky, pointing towards God. I know it might seem bizarre, but despite his situation, he seemed quite content and an aura of serenity seemed to surround him, as if to suggest he had made peace with God and this world.

PS. We are trying to ensure that the money is used for the appropriate purpose and so will try to make sure the money is given directly to the debtors of the family, so as to ensure the money is not used for any other purpose. If anybody is interested in knowing more about the family, my email is: walock1996@gmail.com

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Overlooked #4 Orphanages and Destitute homes: Forever Unsung?

The picture above is from Kashana, A Welfare home in Islamabad. In the time I was in Pakistan, I made sure I to visit various points of interest. These points were not the type places you would find marked on guides or google maps, but sometimes you visit places just because you feel like it.

I’ve written about one of these places: The Dialysis Center, and I will write about another one today:

Kashana, A Welfare home for Destitute, Orphaned and Runaway girls.

I got into contact with the Director of the institute and told her that I was really interested in a visit, since such establishments intrigued me. She replied by saying she was pretty busy that week, but she could squeeze me in on the weekend.

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A look from the side entrance (Apologies for the blurry picture)

Immediately after I arrived, I wanted to get into the gist of things and went into the Director’s office. The Director, Mrs. Naz, started off by showing me a few of her financial books. She told me how she kept a register for all the incoming donations, and how she kept a separate book for the ongoing expenses the home faced. How government aid almost never reached them in time and how over the years she’d become a master at “Making do” with limited resources.

About the institution

As we started walking around the institution, I asked her about the girls and their nurturing. I discovered that the girls ate, learned (through classrooms built in the upper level), played, and slept all under the same roof. The home cared for about 200 girls of all ages, from orphans to runaways, and its micro management requirements were eye opening. While I was there, I saw the windows being cleaned of the house, and I was told the whole ordeal usually took round about 4 hours. This was most remarkably intriguing, and I immediately garnered more respect for the depth and skill that goes into the management of such facilities.

Challenges faced?

When asked about the hindrances faced, she told me there was no shortage of them.

“The other day,” she explained, “the cook wanted to play cricket with the girls. They let him play but did not let him bat. Not pleased, the cook threatened he would clean the wheat flour used to make bread with tap water from the washroom. The next day, I came to work and saw, to my shock, that none of the girls had touched their food and were starving. When asked why, they told me about the incident with the cook. I tried to tell the girls that tap water is still water, and I had to reprimand the cook as well for his childlike behavior. I could not dismiss him, as he was the only one willing to work here on our limited budget. I would increase the budget, but that is out of my hands. Nevertheless, In the bigger picture, Social work has always been my passion and I like to think we’re making a difference. A real difference.”

After concluding our talk, I thanked her for her time and told her about my admiration for her work. As I started walking towards the car, I thought about how hard these people strive for the betterment of others. These are the type of unsung heroes who help advance our society, but they are also easily overlooked by it.