We had driven about half an hour outside of Gwadar, Balochistan, when we entered Surbandar. As my team and I slowly made our way through the slum’s small shacks, constructed out of old barks, fabric, and other scavenged material, empty eyes stared at us in wonder. We stopped in front of one of the shacks, and sought permission to enter.
The home belonged to a widowed woman, Razia whose son, Sameer, is a Grade 9 student at the TCF School in Surbandar. Until recently, after school, Sameer had a part-time job dispensing fuel at a highway gas station to bring some money home. But with the coronavirus lockdown, he lost this job. As I settled in and explained the reason for my visit to Sameer’s mother – to collect information and help TCF’s school communities survive the lockdown – Razia immediately broke down in tears.
“I can’t believe you have come to help us,” she told me in a breaking voice. “I would never have told anyone that we have nothing to eat anymore. But here you are asking me and offering help. I can’t thank God enough for His Mercy.”
Over the next few days, we visited 267 more families in Surbandar and another 461 in Shambe Ismail – hardworking households like Sameer and Razia’s, going through similar struggles yet too proud or afraid to ask for help. We compiled their information and immediately relayed it to the TCF COVID-19 Response Team in Karachi. There, in a matter of days, immediate cash transfers worth Rs. 2,500 for each family were made via JazzCash – bringing much needed relief to communities in crisis.
On behalf of the people of Surbandar and Shambe Ismail, thank you!
Ms. Farida Bibi
Principal TCF School, Oman Campus