Syed Haider Raza Mehdi*
While the chattering, thumbing, typing, opinionated, full stomached, overly wealthy, overly stupid and ignorant, so called elite of this country bitches and moans every day on WhatsApp and Facebook in drawing rooms and meeting rooms, many angels quietly slog away at making a difference in the life of the extremely vulnerable, poor and most at risk, in Pakistan!
They impact the lives of the very very poor who belong to a socio economic status that perhaps may shame even the shameless.
Mohra Fatima is a small hamlet on the road to Chakwal, where a dedicated team of local and foreign qualified doctors have been providing free health care to people suffering from severe emotional and mental disabilities.
“80% would either commit suicide or kill somebody if they hadn’t been treated by us” says Dr. Shakil, Consultant Psychiatrist at Sussex Hospital, UK, the person behind this effort and now based in Pakistan.
I spent a day there a few weeks ago. What I saw would melt the hardest heart. These were people who were extremely poor and in great mental and emotional distress.
“Many were tied in chains by their families, because they didn’t know what was wrong and how to deal with them”.
“Then other doctors take advantage of them prescribing wrong medicines, keeping them hooked as potential earning assets, till these poor people run out of money, and either kill somebody, commitv suicude or end up in chains and die.”
“Pakistani Society is suffering from serious psycho -social toxicity. The violence and trauma we’ve suffered these last 40 years has corroded our society, destroyed families and normal social interaction. And the most impacted are the poor and the underprivileged who have no safety nets, financial, family, social and emotional”
How can we fix it, I asked? Is there a solution?
“Yes, we can.”
“We have to address this at the levels of our schools, colleges and universities. We have to equip our teachers on how to address this phenomenon, how to weave it into our teaching curriculum. Federal and Provincial education authorities, Higher Education Commissions, University Vice Chancellors etc, should seek advice from people like us on how to weave this into our curriculums.”
“We must educate our political, public and private sector leaders and our military leaders about this terrible social bomb which is exploding all across our country.”
*”Institutions like the Civil Services Academy, the Pakistan Institute for Parliamentary Services, National Defence University, Staff College, Pakistan Military Academy, Police Training institutes, Pakistan Institute of Management, etc must get insights. We are also planning to establish an institute to take this forward!*”
What about children suffering from mental and emotional disorders?
“They really are the most at risk. Many are abused. They are unable to participate and learn. They cannot become productive members of our society. So in a humble effort we’ve started a school, free of cost for such children.
I visited this school yesterday in Gulzar Colony, Rawalpindi and saw my little piece of heaven.
Children with severe disabilities being looked after, cared for and taught by people with hearts of gold, the patience of Hazrat Ayub and the virtues of Saints.
How do you support this?
“Our own funds, friends and family and well wishers. One lady in the UK didn’t use her car for a month and biked to work, and then donated the fuel money she saved.”
“You don’t have to be wealthy to donate or care, just have to have a heart that cares!”
Any support from our government poverty alleviation organizations. BAIT UL MAL etc?
He just smiled and offered me a cup of tea!