Mubarak Village is located about 30 km outside of Karachi, the largest city in Pakistan. But it might as well be on another planet. The local population of 10,000 individuals do not have access to running water, electricity or natural gas. Being a fishing village, many families living hear rely on catching fish. This poses another problem – temperature in the summer can hit almost 100F, and if the catch is not transported and sold in a timely fashion, the fish will rot.
Recently, three Sawayra interns – Tabish Anis, Talha Siddiqui and Sajjad Javaid, together with the Operations Manager, Aurangzaib Khan, went to Mubarak Village. They were warmly received by local residents and shown around. The first place the team visited was the local school which had multiple class rooms with benches for the students, writing boards, a variety of posters and some books. Each room also had a ceiling fan which was wrapped in newspaper. The team was informed that as there was no supply of electricity (transmission poles were inoperable), the fans had been covered to reduce rusting of the blades due to the moist seaside air. The bright spot was the positive attitude of the students. They just wanted to learn, even if it meant sitting on the bare floor. As the Sawayra team walked from room to room, some the the younger children smiled and ran back and forth, chatting away excitedly.
After the school, we went to the homes of one of the residents. He was busy preparing lunch on a wooden fire and invited us to partake of the simple meal as soon as it became ready. We asked him how easy it was to cook the food in the absence of natural gas supply and electricity. He informed the team that sometimes he forages for wood, but most of the time there isn’t anything suitable to burn, so he buys the wood at a cost of Rs 100 (just under one US dollar) for every meal he cooks, from a place up the road. This translates into a monthly cost of Rs 2500 in a typical month, which was over 25% of his average monthly income. Nevertheless, he smiled and prayed for better days.
After visiting select homes in the fishing village, the team look at the water supply and were introduced to Heera, the local donkey. Since the local water supply system had broken down years ago, the villagers relied on rain water in the monsoon season. However, this water was of poor quality, and it was too expensive to boil and sanitize it, due to the high cost of wood. As such, people would drink the water straight from the local pond as long as it was not too brackish, discolored or with oderous. Since the team was visiting at a time when there had been some recent rainfall, it was possible to walk around and take a look at the water available for drinking. It was clear that it was of poor quality – with mosquitoes, larvae and algea abound.
Such is the challenge of many people in countries like Pakistan. Access to basic necessities is a common problem in many developing countries, and the lesson and solutions that we apply at Mubarak Village will be applicable to other communities.
Typical classroom at the school in Mubarak Village
The team asked the villagers how Sawayra could help. They told us it would be great to do something about water supply. And if their children could have electricity in the school, it would be wonderful. Finally, they admitted that preserving fish for selling was important, so a deep freezer would be very handy.
Sawayra is looking at solar powered solutions in these areas. If you want more information, have ideas or would like to volunteer, please contact Omar Hasan (firstname.lastname@example.org).