Tears and heartache
‘I came back from my job one day and he was sitting outside weeping,’ says Rubina*. She found her son, Tariq, had been badly injured while playing with his friends.
‘There was a harmful waste thrown in the rubbish and his face was burnt by it. He was feeling a lot of pain and his lips were swollen.
‘I took him immediately to the hospital. I can’t tell you how much his face was burnt. It took him more than a whole month to recover.’
Fear for her children
Rubina has a heightened concern for Tariq because of the care that her other son, Javed, needs.
‘I used to weep because I already had a disabled child,’ says Rubina. ‘And was frightened for the second child.’
Javed has had fits since he was a baby. ‘After having a lot of fits, he became severely ill,’ she says, ‘He is now disabled and is unable to do anything for himself.’
‘He has severe breathing problem. He feels pain because of the smoke and has an allergy to the soil.
‘I take him to the hospital where he has oxygen. Otherwise, I boil water and the steam helps him.’
A rubbish problem
Rubina lives with her husband and three children in Pakistan – one of the least developed countries in Asia.
A third of the population live below the poverty line. One of the biggest challenges is rubbish.
Pakistan produces 20 million tonnes of waste each year (according to the country's Environment Ministry). And about half of it remains uncollected.
‘He feels pain because of the smoke and has an allergy to the soil’
Overwhelmed by waste
‘The main problem here is the rubbish,’ says Rubina. She works hard – cooking, cleaning and ironing – in three households.
But however much she tries, Rubina, and her family are stuck in a waste-strewn, unhygienic slum.
Rubina does her best to provide a safe, clean home for her children. But she cannot stop the overwhelming rubbish dumped in the slums where they live.
She worries about the long-term health of her children. And the huge cost of medical bills and transport to hospital is burdensome.
But praise God, the story does not end with Rubina and her children left in the dirt and waste...
‘The main problem here is the rubbish’
Clearing up the streets
‘A lady came and told us about a project to clean the streets to make them rubbish free. So that there may be no diseases and problems for children.’
Tearfund partner Pak Mission Society (PMS) started this new initiative in the slums, working with local church and community leaders to encourage communities to reuse plastics and manage waste through recycling hubs.
This creates a clean and healthy environment. It prevents rubbish being burnt and stops plastics ending up in the ocean, as well as providing employment for local people.
PMS want to help other slum communities in Pakistan establish similar recycling initiatives. The money matched by the UK Government from this appeal will enable them to do so.
This will make a huge difference to families like Rubina’s. ‘My hope is that my children get a good education, become good human beings and have a better life than ours.’
Rubina is excited about how the recycling initiative could transform her daily life. ‘We hope that it will be better for us and our children – and there will be fewer diseases.’
‘We hope it will be better for us and our children’
*Names changed throughout for privacy purposes