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Saima and her family struggle in the face of Covid-19 in Pakistan

Emergency Health
Pakistan

Saima has been using a wheelchair since she was a child. She lives with her family in a shantytown in Karachi, Pakistan. The pandemic and lockdown have made their daily lives almost impossible to bear.

Saima, her husband and three children

Saima, her husband and three children | © HI

The most vulnerable individuals, including people with disabilities, are bearing the brunt of the lockdown imposed in response to Covid-19, which has left many without food or money. Humanity & Inclusion (HI) is helping them survive the crisis.

Struggling to feed her family

When Saima’s husband, a day labourer, stopped working a month ago, this family with three children soon found themselves without enough to eat. Finding food is now an ordeal. Saima and her husband must travel to a food distribution point two hours from their home to find enough to eat for a month. They depend entirely on humanitarian assistance.

Health services have become inaccessible

A few months ago, when her son fell seriously ill, Saima was unable to take him to the hospital for treatment. She had no other choice than to keep her child at home until he recovered without medical assistance.

“I should have gone to the hospital, but it is quite far in a wheelchair and I was at risk of catching the virus. I need to use my hands to push myself in my wheelchair. So, I stayed at home with my son until his fever broke,” she explains.

Life before Covid-19

Before Pakistan was hit by the epidemic, Saima was being trained by HI in embroidery and sewing to supplement her husband’s income.

“Saima had polio when she was one-year-old, and her legs have been paralysed ever since. Like most people with disabilities in Pakistan, she was completely excluded from the school system and job market. Once trained, Saima would have been able to make a substantial contribution to her family’s income,” says Sumaira Bibi, HI’s project monitoring manager in Pakistan.

With their combined income, the couple would have been able to send their children to the nearby school. Saima hopes the Covid-19 crisis ends soon to bring an end to the suffering of the poorest in society, including people with disabilities. In the meantime, HI is providing the family with assistance.

Date published: 30/04/20

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