Thoughts. Words. Action.

The Uplifting and the Heartbreaking

Life.  It can uplifting and heartbreaking at the same time, in the same place about the same people.

The uplifting.  The 18 Edhi homes, run under the Edhi Foundation umbrella are located in practically all the major metropolitan centers of Pakistan – 7 in Karachi, 3 in Lahore, and one each in Multan, Islamabad, Peshawar, Quetta and Chitral.  These walls, serving as orphanages, havens for the mentally and physically handicapped, and refuge for female victims of domestic abuse, house between 8000 and 9000 children, men and women.

For more than 55 years, Edhi and his non-profit foundation have been providing humanitarian services in a country that seems to continue to need more and more of it.  The numerous services provided by the Edhi foundation include ambulance services, free kitchens, child adoption and care services, rehabilitation centers and educational services.  Even now, when all this is in place, it is difficult to imagine the scale of the change this one man has been able to make.

The heartbreaking.  Last week, nine newborn children die in 12 hours in Larkana, at the Chandka Medical College Hospital.  The cause of this heartbreaking event?  According to the regional government it was power outage.  According to the hospital administration, it was the perpetual overcrowding and late arrival of the mothers-to-be.  It seems the hospital has a capacity of 40 patients, but routinely takes in four times that, crowding four or five babies on the same bed.  Even more heartbreaking, the administrators say 4 to 8 babies die in the hospital every day.

I cannot imagine the challenges of the hospital administration.  How can one turn away a woman in labor, even when there is no bed or room for her to deliver the child, and no facilities for the newborn to be cared for?  What does one do when seeing the spark of a new life diminishing and then extinguishing before your eye?  Does one shed a tear, pray to God, and move to the next mother and child?

But then, life’s uplifting tales more than often are stories of individuals, while opaque institutions, organizations and bureaus frequently breed accounts of heartbreak and misery.

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