Poverty deprives the innocent soul
by Shaista Malik, Zehra Amrish and Afifa Shariff
Among 45 million reportedly food insecure people in Pakistan, almost one fourth of our population, a sizeable portion comprise children who have to do hazardous work to carry burden of their families and themselves.
Rag-pickers (mostly children) including Bano Shahbaz, 12, and her colleagues have to pick rotten fruits and vegetable for their family while searching heaps of garbage in vegetable market in Islamabad. They carry the stuff and make it edible and some times sell it among fellow poor community living in I-11 slums.
“I have not so far seen any school though I want to go there as circumstances do not allow me to do so”, said cute Bano. Her wish is certainly not unrealistic but seems not to be fulfilled. Bano has seven siblings, 5 brother and 2 sisters with an old ailing father. Since her father Shahbaz Khan, 35, is unable to earn his living due to sickness, she has to pick around 5 kilos of rotten fruits and vegetables every day from the vegetable market. She also has to look after her younger sibling, wash their clothes and perform domestic chores. Despite all odds, Bano is still hopeful of managing money for treatment of her father.
Another rag picker Gulzareen Bibi, 10, also picks rotten fruits and vegetables for her family. Her family is just shifted from Lalamusa. THer father and elder brother sell tomatoes in the same vegetable market but their earnings are not enough for the family. Gulzareen and her two brothers pick rotten fruits and vegetables to supplement family needs.
Some times, this inherited poverty also becomes a crime for these children when they are blamed for stealing rotten fruits and vegetables from the shops.
These children are denied their basic social and economic rights. They are forced into poverty for no fault of their own. They are paying a high price for being born in a poor family.
United Nations estimates that 45 million people across the country are severely food-insecure, reflective of a mounting and multifaceted food security crisis. The impact of present growing trend of food price hikes may contribute to further vulnerability throughout Pakistan, which may increase food insecurity particularly in children. People have no option except to take their children out of school and send them to work.
To understand the miseries, we don’t need to wait for miracles. Among us, a very few pay serious attention to what is happening around them. Just pass through, mentally engage in their own problems, people don’t bother to involve in other matters relating to the poor and that too of children.-INFN (With Picture)