Fieldset
Colours

The colours of Balochistan brighten any bad day. In Australia, in the middle of winter, the cities are filled with greys, blacks and dark blues. It is the middle of winter here in Quetta, and I am in one of the driest, dustiest places I have ever been. But women are seen in fabrics of every colour. Reds and greens and blues and oranges and every colour in between.

I am not sure why, but somehow these colours help soften the blow of all the saddening statistics that I am learning. For example, Pakistan has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the region. It is one of only three countries to remain polio endemic in 2013, and has one of the lowest rates of breastfeeding in South Asia. These statistics puzzle me.

Attachment between mother and child is so imperative to the psychological and physical health of both. Breastfeeding has such a major impact on this. Yet there is a resistance in some areas that is very hard to break. The nurses, paediatricians, health educators, midwives and counsellors (expat and national) are doing much to try and improve the rates of breastfeeding. Progress is slow, but it is most certainly progress. It is wonderful to see the direct benefits of this work in the hospital.

In between the work, I have enjoyed spending time occasionally on the roof of the house, where we have an open area with some chairs. I lie on a yoga mat, watching kites fly in the clear, blue sky, with the sun shining. We’re not able to walk around the town because of the security situation, so this is one of the only opportunities we have to be outside. Kite flying is a popular pastime here and I wish I could see what was happening below on the ground. But our view is blocked by screens. In fact, I often I wish I was down there flying a kite too! Instead I just imagine the kite fliers running and twisting and turning and laughing. The weather is getting colder though, so I’m not sure how much longer the sun will shine and the sky will remain cloudless.