As winter approaches, Abida Parveen and her six children face a desperate struggle for survival in their village in Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan.
Their modest home made of wood and mud is not sufficient for the harsh winter. "During the winter and rainy season water continues dripping from the roof.” Abida says. “With the weight of the snow, there's a constant worry that it might collapse, potentially burying us all underneath.”
Last year, their village experienced over four feet of snow, with temperatures plummeting below -10 degrees Celsius.
Abida’s greatest worry is not being able to purchase blankets and other winter essentials for her children. Winter in the region is severe, lasting six months from November to April.
Abida’s husband, Muhammad Kareem, earns PKR 3000 and her eldest son, Faizan, earns PKR 15,000. Still, their combined income of PKR 18,000 (over CAD $ 2) a day barely sustains their basic needs. The majority of the villagers are daily laborers struggling to make ends meet. Poverty is their constant companion.
The family's home doesn’t have a kitchen, nor a washroom. Her daughters must walk miles at night to defecate in the fields. “My daughters are women now, and not having a washroom is very painful for me to see.”
Recognizing the vital role of education in breaking the cycle of poverty, the couple is committed to invest in their children's education. However, this decision leaves them with little to fulfil other expenses such as repairs, heating, warm clothing, and sometimes food.
Abida is sad by the inability to provide for her children. Not to mention, the health hazards they face due to lack of heating and sanitation. “It's disheartening to feel that we might not have enough to eat because our income is insufficient, and there is no external assistance available.”
She pleads for help. “Please provide warm clothes for my children. We are unable to relocate to urban areas because the roads are blocked due to heavy snow in winter.”
Many more families are facing these dire conditions and require your urgent support this winter. Be their hope.