Sara Solangi; the fortunate woman

569A0153

Somewhere in a village called Mehrab Solangi in Hyderabad, Pakistan, lives 42 year old Sara Solangi with her husband and two children.

569A0198

As a community group member and a beneficiary of a Women’s Leadership training program, Sara is a force to be reckoned with. She has been campaigning for fair and equal access to water for her village for the last three years and has lead the way for many women to raise their voices to be heard by the feudal lords and local ministries.

569A0089

What is unique about Sara’s situation is the unwavering support from her husband, who unlike most men in their village, openly dotes on his wife. He encourages her to speak up at meetings and helps her equally with all household chores.

Sara knows that she is incredibly lucky to have such a partner in her life;

“During Ramazan, when I wanted to go into Ehtikaf (solitary worship), he did not hesitate to take over running the household for the few weeks that I was away. Sometimes the people in our village make fun of him but I personally think they are all jealous!”

In order to give back to the community, Sara and her husband let the local school use a room in their house to conduct classes out of. They say that it brings them happiness to be of use to the village and the children. Sara admits that she never studied beyond primary level and enjoys sitting in the classes occasionally.

Together, the couple have two children who were born after nearly eleven years of marriage.

569A0073

“For many years, I thought I would never be able to have children. My husband was so loving and supportive even during that time and then finally we were blessed with a son and shortly after our daughter was born.”

 

Photos and text: ©Khaula Jamil/Oxfam Australia

 

Jamna and Vishnu; the couple with a dream.

569A0724

23-year-old Jamna and her husband, Vishnu, reside in a village called Laloo Kohli in Badin (Sindh, Pakistan). Like most young couples, Jamna and Vishnu had a dream; they wanted to build a home for themselves and their growing family before the mud house they were living in collapsed.

569A0638

Jamna is the General Secretary of her Community Group and receives trainings from NGO’s that empower women from her village to plan their futures. This was how Jamna learnt about creating a “Vision Journey” where she and her husband mapped out their goals and ways to practically achieve them. The vision map involved a step-by-step plan that included finding employment, managing their expenses, educating their children while saving to build their dream house.

569A0648

Vishnu, as a Bachelor’s Graduate and Jamna, with her 12th standard pass, were welcomed to teach at the local school till the principal of the school favored his own cousin for the job. The set back meant that their dream was shelved as the couple looked for other means of employment.

It took two years of working at the local school, working as a seamstress, farming and other employment for the couple to save enough to finally start construction. Today, they are the only two people to have a solid house in a village of mud houses.

Vishnu admits that nothing the couple has achieved could have been possible without his wife.

569A0678

“The culture is very patriarchal in my village and men make most of the decisions but I make sure that Jamna and I take all our decisions together.”

569A0708

The two of them want a bright future for their three children. Every night, Vishnu reads books with his eldest daughter who has already started working on her own Vision Journey that includes becoming a teacher one day.

 

Photos and text: ©Khaula Jamil/Oxfam Australia

The Tomorrow Boy of Kalash

Screen Shot 2020-03-14 at 11.28.56 PM

In December 2019, I travelled to Kalash Valley in the norther part of Pakistan on assignment for UNESCO to understand the ways of the indigenous Kalasha tribe better.

I ended up writing an introspective piece about the youth of Kalash born out of the time I spent with Sardar Khan, a young Kalasha, and some of his friends and family.

It’s long so grab a cup of chai, sit back, relax and allow yourself to be transported to Kalash.

LINK:

The Tomorrow Boy of Kalash