One of the major problems that prevail in Pakistani society is poverty. In Pakistan, this problem has been as old as the inception of this nation. Furthermore, ever since the outbreak of Covid-19, this problem is on a rise around the globe. Under the pandemic situation, the global condition of poverty has become much worse due to job loss, inflation, halt in economic activities, loss of remittances, education, and health care services, etc. According to the Planning Commission estimates, in 2015-16 around 50 million people of Pakistan were living below the poverty line and the existing figure is much more and expected to further grow.
Poverty is mostly associated as being a rural phenomenon but that’s not entirely true. Even in big cities and regions like Karachi, this problem continues to exist. It can be defined as the lack of fundamental needs such as clean drinking water, primary health care, and sanitary facilities, education, and other social services. Moreover, when the basic needs of the people are not being met they turn to illegal and immoral ways to satisfy their needs. As a result, poverty further gives birth to other evils in a society like theft, robbery, and other forms of crime.
Different people have different outlooks to address and solve this problem. The government is waging a war against poverty in its own way but we as individuals and responsible citizens have an obligation to help those around us in need. One way to deal with this problem is to give out charity to the poor and vulnerable segments of society but often time’s charity is in the form of money and can only help a person on a temporary basis. Let alone, it also promotes extreme dependence, reluctance to work hard or earn money, and delay in the process of seeking a job. However, there’s another way to provide a helping hand to a needy person and that is by making them self-reliant. This might not be the most convenient way to help out but it is more sustainable and the benefits outweigh the cost.
Sharing my small personal experience, recently I along with my friends had an opportunity to help out a young female living in Karachi. She belonged to a family of 10+ members comprising of adults and mostly children, with only 2 people earning in the house doing blue-collar jobs, and therefore, it was difficult for the family to make ends meet. We had the chance to visit her place of living and she along with her family lived in what they called a jughi (camp). It was very upsetting for us to observe the conditions in which they were struggling and surviving. And also gave us the assurance that she was genuine, honest, and deserving of our help. We had the option of donating from our personal resources or collecting donations from others to provide for her family’s financial needs but we wanted to help in a way that could last longer. So we started off by inquiring about her skills, experience and ambitions. After having a discussion, we got to know that she was equipped for doing a lot of house chores, and along with that she also possessed sewing skills which she learned from her mother. However, she did not own a sewing machine so she had to borrow the machine from someone which was a hassle for her and stopped her from doing it full-time. In that moment, we knew what we had to do to help her. We decided to buy her a sewing machine along with all the essentials and supplies through which she could start stitching clothes for others and earn money to support her family in her own way. Since I and my friends were all full-time students, nobody among us was earning. For this purpose, we had to ask for donations but instead of directly asking for money, we asked the people to either buy a product or showed them the estimated cost they could pay for the product, whichever option was feasible for them. After the required amount was collected, we bought the essentials and handed it over to the girl. We also informed people in our network about her and spread the word of mouth to help her kick start her own small tailoring business. The reason I shared this story is because I want people to understand how simple and fulfilling this act of making a small difference could be.
All in all, the eradication of poverty and hunger in society is largely the government’s prime responsibility but in Pakistan, the government has been very ineffective in this regard. Thus we as citizens need to pay heed to this social issue. The next time you see someone genuinely needy around you don’t just hand them over some cash but instead, try to understand their problem and then help accordingly. If your means and resources allow, help them in a more sustainable way. Along with that, after giving the necessary support required, make sure to follow up on the person’s situation. Sometimes circumstances lead to the discontinuation of the business and the person again falls under the curse of poverty. So it is important to check up on the person to make sure he is financially stable and his business is running smoothly.