“Why don’t they send a man?” That is what a few people back home said to me when I told them I was going on mission to Pakistan.
Being a woman here in Pakistan can be difficult, I do not disagree, but I think being female in my job here is a great benefit. I am able to sit with the women and talk to them about their lives. I have heard many stories from these women – some very difficult to hear, but I am privileged to be able to hear them. Many women here have experienced such suffering, seeing many of their children die – something no mother should have to deal with at all, but becomes so common place here.
One such woman really affected me. Her nine-month-old baby was brought into the paediatric ward having seizures. He was initially brought in by a relative who was only a child herself (maybe seven or eight years old) as we were told the mother was unable to attend due to being needed at home, but on our request, she came in later that evening to stay with her child. Despite our treatment, this young boy continues to have seizures, and she just sits there quietly next to him, lightly sponging his forehead. We give yet another dose of medication to stop his seizures, and I sit with her until the seizure stops.
We are both quietly watching this little body, unsure of his future. She then tells me with tears in her eyes that three of her children have died following illness with seizures just like this. My heart sinks. She goes on to tell me that she is from Afghanistan and since she was married eight years ago she has not been able to go back home to see her family. She tells me how much she misses her mother and sisters. This woman has had to watch three of her children die, and now possibly four, and she longs to have her mother and sisters by her side.
On a day where I had been a little homesick myself, it gives me a good dose of perspective. Family is universal, and in times of heartbreak, nothing can replace family by your side.