Life was smooth as silk for Nosheen Aslam and Shaheen Razzaq, then both matriculation students. They were happy, healthy and full of youthful verve. Come October 8, 2005 with a devastating earthquake that was termed one of the deadliest in history. Thousands were killed while lakhs were injured. Both Nosheen and Shaheen also received serious injuries. The world turned upside down for them as they lost movement of the entire lower half of the body due to spinal cord injury.
“We were in the class room at our village school in District Bagh, Azad Kashmir when the earthquake struck. When we woke up we discovered that we had lost movement of the lower part of our bodies. Life became miserable for us. We lost all hope about our future as we heard that spinal cord injury is very difficult to treat. There was darkness all around us,” narrated Nosheen with input from Shaheen.
Both young ladies have, since then, been confined to wheelchairs while having the additional responsibilities of providing for their families. Nosheen provides for her 80-year-old father along with her five younger siblings. After the tragic incident, her elder brothers became psychiatric upon witnessing their sister’s condition, which was another shock for her. Meanwhile Shaheen’s father passed away and she has to take care of her elderly mother and an unmarried sister.
Both friends work in a shopping mall in Islamabad as receptionists with a salary of Rs15,000 per month each. From this combined salary of Rs30,000 they pay Rs6,000 as rent for the small house where both live together. They spend the remaining amount for other expenditure like food, shopping, and family matters. Their main aim behind working at this job is to provide for their families and maybe even raise enough money for their own treatment which is currently very expensive and out of the range of common people like them. They cannot afford the exorbitant expenditure involved to get treatment with latest techniques and therapies, which is not yet available in Pakistan. In simple words their treatment is possible only abroad.
When asked about their problems and their struggle, both were of the same mind that they would be in a much better position with a government job in either Islamabad or Azad Kashmir’s District Bagh as that would allow them to begin their treatment and be in a position to look after and provide for their families. If some kind, well-wishing and philanthropic persons want to help them during the month of Ramazan, then they can contact them through this news agency.