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Clearing the air

Written by Tearfund | 08 Mar 2019

By Tearfund’s Cheryl Bannatyne, following a trip to Pakistan.

Passing through a metal door from the dusty street we enter a small courtyard. The concrete floor is swept and washed down – pristine and spotless. Rubina keeps a beautiful home and warmly welcomes us.

She’s very aware of how important it is to keep things clean. But however much she tries, Rubina and her family are stuck in a waste-strewn, unhygienic slum.

Disease and distress
All around the perimeter of this slum in Pakistan, piles of rubbish grow – breeding grounds for disease. At night, in an attempt to reduce the problem, fires are started but the filthy, toxic smoke drifts over the community.

As Rubina talks to us she is gently waving a fan over her eldest son, Javed, who lies on a bed in the courtyard. Having a child with a disability is challenging in any circumstance but the build up of rubbish and the acrid smoke makes it even more difficult.

‘He has severe breathing problem[s],’ says Rubina. ‘He feels pain because of the smoke.’

In a month there might be four or five trips to the hospital. The costs of medical care are a huge burden, as is the fear Rubina has for the ongoing health of her children.

Waste away
But change is on the horizon and it couldn’t come soon enough for Rubina and her three children.

A hopeful smile lights her face. ‘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, is setting up a recycling hub on the outskirts of the community. They have employed a number of people from the neighbourhood who collect rubbish door-to-door and take it to the hub to be processed.

Now, not only is Rubina’s home kept clean, but the streets around it are starting to be freed of rubbish.

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.’


Father God,

Thank you for your loving care for Rubina and her family and many others like her in the slums of Pakistan. Thank you that she has hope for a brighter, cleaner future for her children. Please bless and expand the work being done to establish recycling hubs so that many more might also have this hope.


If you give to Tearfund already, thank you. If you don’t, and you feel led, please give regularly to help us reach more people like Rubina. Right now, this work in Pakistan is part of our Matched Giving Appeal**, meaning your generosity could go even further.

*Name changed to protect identity

**Until 17 May, all donations will be doubled by the UK government, up to £3 million. The first three monthly payments of a new regular gift will be matched (payments must be set up between 18 February and 17 May and all three payments must be made by 17 July 2019).

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