GOOD omen for Pakistan that the importance of ladies in nation’s growth and development has begun to receive the kind of fillip it needed since long. The passage of Women”s protection bills in three of the four provinces—and the enthusiasm displayed this time on the International Women’s day of March 9, is indeed laudable. Women folks constitute 51 percent of the country’s population.
They are now working shoulder to shoulder to with men in nation-building activities. Girls now far ahead of boys in securing the merit list in school, and college education. A happy augury. While a number of functions, seminars, workshops etc were held this time all over Karachi and the rest of the country, the Swiss Consul General Emil Wyss, trend setter for the diplomatic corps, stole the limelight by setting aside many of items from his hectic schedule to visit and old home and shelter house for the ladies near the Clifton waterfront Tuesday.
The founder of the place, called Binte Fatima Old Home and Shelter for ladies, is a devoted housewife , Farazana Shoaib, who with his son, is now taking care of some 37 old and shelterless ladies in a rented house in Phase 6 of the Defence Housing society. She herself has attached the name of Binte Fatima with her own name, taken from the name of an old inmate.
Emil, carrying fruit basket and gifts for the ladies, sat and chatted with them, sought information as to how old ladies were treated there, saying that the phenomenon of old houses is now universally accepted. He was happy to meet a 100-year old lady, reciting “Kalima” and Quranic verses on Tasbeeh beads .
Hailing from Hyderabad (Deccan) in India, she spoke in fluent English, and had seen happier days. Her name is Zebunnisa. “ I don’t like Pakistan, I love it” said Emil, known for his love for humanity, and is often visits orphanages, and even drove to flower show at Clifton Seaview gardens to join the young children in games and bring smiles on their faces.” Oh It was great, Salahuddin”, he was excited about his being with the Pakistani families, especially the kids.
Frazana explained that she founded the house in 2008, moved by an isolated incident, and since then has rented a double-storeyed house to take care of these ladies, who included a few younger ones also, but were helpless for want of family or resources. Faarazana’s husband is a businessman, and now looks after a similar place in Islamabad. Her son is with her.
The lady, devoting herself to humanitarian work, spends 365 days, round the clock with the shelterless ones. She has a staff of about a dozen people, including management and cooks. Ladies living there free of cost, are provided foods, and their hygiene etc are her responsibility. She felt unhappy that despite writing to governor or chief minister of Sindh, no response came from either, and she needed money to expand the operation with a new house.
A 76-year old Haleema and another ageing one, frail and fragile, plus a lady from English mother and Irish father, exchanged notes with Emil. “People are very nice here, very hospitable. I am happy to be in Pakistan” said Emil who is often seen at the universities, and colleges, and places of have-nots and feels refurbished after being with them.
“It was a great moment for me to be with these ladies” , he remarked at the end of his an hour and half stay at the place, and promised to be back again with them with his Indonesian wife Arie who had earlier been to Aga Khan Hospital to see a new born with eye and nose deficiencies.