“It was May 2000 when this new wing of the Obstetrics / Gynaecology Department was opened. I have been working here ever since. It was difficult at first. I don’t think everyone was mentally prepared to accept the public/private partnership. We had to give the staff the confidence and make them believe that we are here to help them, and make their work easier. I am responsible for ensuring that the building keeps running, however, I am fully involved with the department and committed to helping whenever I can. It’s not my nature to just sit aloof in this office. This position requires constant follow up. There is always more we can do for the maintenance and upkeep of the department, like cleaning regularly, preparing kits, and medicine packets for each patient.

What would you say is your biggest challenge?

As you know, we don’t ever refuse patients. Sometimes women come in from other hospitals, almost at their last breath. Some survive but some don’t. Our goal is to help everyone who walks in through these doors, so even if that means our record of deaths increases, we never turn anyone away.”

Son taps my shoulder: “Hamari bhi kahaani sunain!” (Listen to our story too!)

Excited by the willingness of this smiling young boy to share their story, I proceeded to listen to the father narrate.

“I used to be a successful man. I lived in a bungalow and had my own cars. In 2010, the floods destroyed a lot of my property and land. I worked hard to reconstruct my home and just as that was ready, the floods hit again in 2012, taking away everything I had rebuilt. We visited our home, that now had standing water, feeling for anything we could possibly recover amidst the water; a fridge, a cupboard, or a table, only to find that they had been completely destroyed or stolen.

The loss and grief were too much for my wife to handle, and she lost her life to a heart attack, leaving just me, my son, and my daughter in this world. My brother told me since my daughter was alone at home, I should get her married to his son. She was only thirteen, so I hesitated, but in the end, he convinced me to do so.

It was then that the elders advised me to go to Karachi. I did not like Karachi as there was too much rush. I then rented a small place in Hab Chowki, away from Karachi. I work as a mazdoor (Labourer) and do some driver-y. My son goes to the madrassa and is a Quran Pak Hafiz in progress. He also scored very well in his 4th-grade class.

I recently developed pain here *points to the area between his ribs and belly* so decided to get some tests done. They told me I have peelia and might have both (Hepatitis B and C.) For the past two weeks, I have been running around the various hospitals in Karachi, trying to get my tests done. I need to get my x-ray and I don’t have any money. They have now sent me here. I am looking to get a constant job so I can provide for my son and marry a widow since that is a Sunnat.
I am so glad you are here to listen to our story. In other places, they never listen and dismissively give us what we need or send us elsewhere”

“Come take a photo of my beautiful baby. This is my granddaughter, she’s sitting here with me, her dadi, while her mother is inside there (points to radiology building) getting an ultrasound. She got injections put for family planning, so she cannot have any more children, and now she’s having problems with internal bleeding. I don’t know why she got them, she only has this one precious little girl. In my time we used to have 12 – 13 children. It’s a good thing but it’s put her in so much distress. She’s like my daughter, I don’t even refer to her as my daughter-in-law, but my daughter.

Her name is Rizwana and she’s only a year old. Her dad has been trying to find work. He was employed but then he got kidney stones, so when he took days off from work they fired him. She doesn’t have a dada, but has her nana wrapped around her finger. She calls him and talks to him, says hello. She can also say “tata.” She also smiles, I don’t know why she’s not smiling now. We’ve come all the way from Korangi, and this is her outing to Jinnah. Take her photo and then she’ll come on tv and we can be like look you’re so famous!”