Zareena, 70 years old has been living at various Edhi Centers for the past 18 years. Her family left her at the Edhi Center after she suffered from a paralysis attack. “My parents died when I was only a child and I don’t have any siblings. I was married off by my relatives at a very young age and my husband had 5 children from his previous marriage. I had 5 children of my own and I took care of all of them, getting them married. But one wanted to keep me when I got ill.”
Pakistan has a fast growing aged population, which could touch 45 million by 2025. We already have close to 18 million people aged 60 and above. A generation or so ago, the elderly were taken care of by younger family members as the joint family system was widely prevalent. However today, in most families the children have moved out of joint family system or migrated to other countries, leaving a large population of elderly people who need specialized care. But it is not just the old who suffer.
Pakistan is a patriarchal society where women suffer all sorts of discrimination, resulting in low social, economic and political status in the society. The World Economic Forum placed Pakistan as the second worst country on gender equality in its 2017 Global Gender Gap index; the country ranked 143rd out of 144 countries, worst in the South Asian region. There are many other disturbing numbers including millions of girls being ‘out’ of school’, thousands of Pakistani women getting married before reaching the age of 18 years; and thousands dying from pregnancy related causes. The list sadly goes on.
In this scenario, Abdul Sattar Edhi and Bilquis Edhi’s Foundation has played a great role in providing shelter and other services to women and children. From providing free care and feeding women who were subjected to torture or neglected by their families, to providing consultancy on family planning and maternity services, the Foundation provides a multitude of services to the helpless women of Pakistan.
Zareena, wishes that Pakistani men would stop hitting women. She shares “I started walking a few months after I lived at the Edhi Center. I pass my time by helping out with the upkeep of the center.I help with cooking, cleaning, counseling the young girls who run away from home.” Zareena, who is not educated but has learned to read Urdu shares that she mans the donation counter at the center for three hours every day. Every evening she helps out at the mortuary by giving baths to the dead bodies that arrive at the center. “All our needs are well taken care of here. This is my home now.”
To ensure that Edhi Foundation can continue to support women like Zareena and millions of women just like her, Coca-Cola’s Ramazan campaign #EidiForEdhi appeals to Pakistanis to donate generously to this noble cause. You can donate by:
- Using the Coca-Cola’s #BottleOfChange or collecting #EidiforEidi in terms of gifts and dropping these at the nearest Edhi Center or at one of the 75,000 Telenor easy paisa outlets
- Using Easypaisa to transfer money to the Edhi Foundation, Telenor has waived off all charges as their contribution to the Edhi Foundation
- Making a direct online transfer into Edhi Foundation’s bank account