Until Hope Walked In…..

Story of your support to Salehan Bibi
They are not wrong when they say, “Hope is a good thing”. It’s a life saver, a tiny rope to hold on when falling off a cliff and sometimes a salvation from bitter diseases. Hope just like that for Salehan bibi of District Thatta became the reason to live, to continue to struggle for basic needs and important of all wait with a shine of hope in her heart. This here is the story of a Salehan, the woman who lived through a life where problems came with the passing time but who chose to be patient and believe in the betterment of her days.
In Sindh the road to Jati, Thatta district twists and turns with a lot of pits and dunes, a lot of small houses pass by, houses made of wood, thoroughly structured together.
Sometimes dark old palm leaves dangling from the roof with paved front porch where children in dirt packed cheeks and hands play marble. One can always say that life in this coastal area of Pakistan stands still, where nothing moves ahead, nothing goes farther and time halts.
But then again a few things HAVE changed here, now instead of the wooden houses each sides of the road greets the passerby with desperate conditions of flood survivors, living in small tents, sleeping on the open lands and children as usually playing….but in this time in flood water.
Among these tents on the left side of the road towards Jati is the one where Salehan lives with her 23 Family members.
Salehan wife of Anwar Shah is a 62 year old woman belonging to a small village called Allah Dino Mallah, in Tehsil Jati of District Thatta of Sindh Province which is at about 45 kms from where she is now. To anyone Salehan is another flood victim, generalized enough to be among the needy families in Thatta and forgotten after giving a pack of rice. But Salehan when having to sit with has a story to tell.
Her story begins in that small village called Allah Dino Mallah, where Salehan lived with her parents, sister to 3 brothers and 2 sisters, one of which is abnormal who now lives with her. While the others like her brothers married and are now living separately. She too was married and sent off to a new home, a new family where once again poverty and rising inflation caused them with a lot of problems, right when they used to have 3 to 4 cows and goat’s now only one cow was left while others sold out to provide for needs.
“This life here (after flood) doesn’t surprise me at all; my life has always been filled with struggles, sad moments and hardships,” Salehan says.
As a child Salehan had seen her parents fighting severe kind of poverty, which came like the cultural Jahez (dowry) in her life as well, as each day after her marriage her husband walked distances to go to the landlords land to work on small wages, she belonging to a syed (cast-wise strict system) family was supposed to stay in parda (veil) but as times became a challenge and for the survival of her children she chose to step out of her home with her husband in search of daily wage labors.
When marrying off 4 sons can be a reason to celebrate for a few, they had been an initiative to grow the hardships for Salehan, sons already struggling with poverty and lack of jobs and each one of them with 4 to 6 children now had about 23 stomachs to feed. Due to rising poverty three of her sons chose to live go separate ways with their families while one still lives with them with his 7 children.
Soon, old age became another problem when moving her legs to walk about a mile would send her off in pain back to the house, her frail hands couldn’t accept the work of everyday and her son along with his wife took over the responsibility to bring enough money for daily needs.
Life went on for Salehan just like that until she along with the other women in her village heard about the land distribution program of Banazir Bhutto by PDIs FM Radio Initiative for awareness raising.
“I couldn’t believe it at first, we never thought anything like that happened. But since everyone else was applying I too applied for a patch of my own land”, Salehan shares.
Holding her breath until the time of Katchari when the distributed land was announced she had prayed for her own land until it happened. Her hopes and dreams did come true when her name was announced and she was given off eight acres of land. But as Salehan says hardships are a part of her life, another problem jumped forward with the advent of this celebration. A family from a different tribe in her village who were well off enough claimed the land and declared Salehan as an illegal possessor.
The team of Participatory Development Initiatives (PDI) and Oxfam approached her and she was assisted to appeal for filing of a case against the certain person. Different types of media such as press, FM, tv channels, posters, banners were used to campaign against illegal occupation of land by the opposing party and before even the case could be filed Salehan and her husband came to know that the opposing family is surrendering.
But what Salehan didn’t knew was that this surrender was rather a trap where the opposition party decided to keep her quiet and stay out of danger of going to the court and declared that that land would be given to her but kept on using the land for their own benefit and months passed by.
And right when PDI was about to take the matters to the court, Pakistan foods took the villages of Thatta off guard as the Soorjani Band broke forcing half a million people to migrate within the night. Salehan like others departed from her village and faced another round of helplessness, poverty and problems.
“We rushed away from the village renting a truck that cost us 20,000 for all of our family members and a few possessions. My grandchildren were in bad conditions”, she says. “We lived in a small school in Badin where the heat and diseases attacked us all”.
Salehan and her family were soon forced to leave that school after a month, having nowhere in mind and knowing their own home stood in water they had no idea as where to go. And then is when they hired another vehicle to come live on this road side with no food, water, shelter or money.
They have been living here for two months now, Eid-Ul-fitr that’s the biggest celebration of Muslim countries was celebrated in the small school while this Eid that is after two days, Salehan still can't provide for anything for her grandchildren.
The little children when cry and ask her for new cloths and bangles, her heart mourns at the thought about her own childhood when she desperately wanted new things on eid and now her grandchildren too are deprived of it, but she isn’t hopeless.
“We will still fight for our land because winning it back is really important for me, she says, it will help my family not even now but later in their lives and provide for their small dreams”.
Participatory Development Initiatives (PDI) where promised to fight her case in the next months is also going to reward her for her continues hopefulness and for her uplifting thoughts. For the next months PDI is going to provide her family with recovery package of household kits, hygiene kits and monthly rashan for their recovery initiative. But then again PDI won’t forget that all this is not just from their behalf because it’s a gift from the people from around the world…
And we at PDI Thank you for making this possible for us~
To know more about PDI email us at info@pdi.org.pk or log on to www.pdi.org.pk
To support us in our efforts to help flood survivors of Pakistan please donate online here on Global Giving: http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/help-pdi-in-relief-and-recovery-of-1000-families/

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