developmenttechnologygovernanceeducationhealth sectorconflict zonehuman rightsenvironmentreligious dimension

MissionAFFORDABLE, SUSTAINABLE, AND GREEN HOUSINGPiecemakersSchool ProgramSARID's ProjectsSouth Asia DevelopmentSouth Asia TechnologySouth Asia GovernanceSouth Asia EducationSouth Asia Health SectorSouth Asia Conflict ZoneSouth Asia EnterpriseSouth Asia EnvironmentSouth Asia ReligionSARID Journal






Muzaffarabad, AJK, August 22, 2006
By Rikki Schmidle


Please click to see the images

I recently traveled to Muzaffarabad to visit the two women whom SARID has been supporting. We had a wonderful visit, and they repeatedly expressed their gratitude for all the assistance that they have been receiving.

Nazmeem, the first recipient of SARID's funding and our unofficial "team leader," met me in the town center immediately after her daily computer class. We then drove to her mother's home. There, Nazmeem's brother shuffled in large plastic containers of drinking water while her mother sat on the bed. Her mother suffers from diabetes and remains in a state of shock since the death of her children in the October earthquake. Moreover, the wounds on her mother's feet are getting worse, a result of both diabetes and the fact that she spends all day sitting upright on the bed. Nazmeem also pointed out the recent cataract surgery her mother had undergone. However still cannot see and has been diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy. Retinopathy is almost impossible to reverse once the symptoms have begun.

Hallima, the second recipient of SARID's funding, came to Nazmeem's house with her daughter and three other women who also lost their husbands in the earthquake. We talked over cups of tea about their problems; each woman has lost her husband and her home. They live either in tents or the broken portions of their family's homes. I hugged Hallima and she introduced me to the three new women.

The first was Naseem, mother of six girls. Her youngest daughter is five and her oldest was recently married. She must have detected my disbelief when I heard that her daughter was already married. "I was married at 14 and had my first daughter the following year," she explained. "And for my daughter, it is better than living with fifteen people in the one room that's left of my brother's home."

Hajeera, another widow, has four small children and lives in a tent with her extended family. Nazeea, the third woman, has two small children and share the remains of her father's home. They concurred with Naseem that marrying at a young age was often the best option.

Naseem, Hajeera and Nazeea are enrolled in a free sewing course at Muzaffarabad Family Planning Center (FPC). According to them there are both benefits and difficulties associated with attending the course daily. On the one hand it requires that they leave their families for a few hours each day. They also they have to provide their own materials. On the other hand, they are gaining valuable skills and enjoy the companionship of working with the other women. They hope that once they begin making high quality garments, they will be able to sell them in the market. They would keep the profits.

Naseem, meanwhile has an infected eye duct. She worries that without getting surgery for her blocked tear duct she will not be able to sew any longer because the excess tears made delicate stitching difficult.

Then I went with the five women to the Family Planning Center to meet with the women running the programs there. The directors sounded hopeful that the widows will soon be making items that are sellable. The FPC is expanding its facilities and wants to bring in traditional loons to make winter clothes. One director said, "It might be hot now, but in the winter it gets very cold up here."

After talking with the women at the center, Nazeea, Hajeera, and Naseem stayed to finish up their class work, and I said goodbye to Hallima. Nazmeem and I went to the hospital to have her blood work checked. I remained concerned about her enlarged thyroid and she is very fearful of surgery. While at the hospital we talked about the complications that her mother was facing and the recent death of Hallima's mother. Nazmeem cried as she told me how hard it is to be strong without her husband to stand by her. I asked that she be strong, not only for her daughter, but for the other women that look up to her. I held her hand and tried reassure her that she is not alone

* * *

Since the above article was written SARID has identified other widows to support, besides the ones SARID is already supporting, and is waiting for help from fellow SARIDIANS to further expand this program.






Copyright 2003-2006 | SARID | 675 Mass Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA | Tel: 617.492.0764 | Fax: 617.492.6226