Future of 1,000 kids is at stake as schooling slid down priority list
In the midst of a crowd of people, eight-year-old Gulzar Channa was busy drawing a tent on a sheet of paper at a relief camp off Northern Bypass Karachi. For the last three months, he has been living with his parents in the tent city comprising 800 families following the flood ravaged their area in Warah Tehsil of Kamber Shahdadkot district.
He has passion for getting education, but unfortunately his dream is Turing sour as there is no one to help these forsaken people.
“I was studying in Class III when floods washed away our school and village. I want to get education, but there is no school or teacher except for Moulvi sb who teaches us the Holy Quran,” he said, adding that when he insisted, his father got some color pencils, copies and books for him to continue his education.
During the visit to the relief camp named as “Gulshan-e-Syed”, a huge number of children were sitting idle in the tent city located near Umer Brohi Goth.
According to the residents, some officials had visited them a month ago soon after the Sindh education minister’s announcement to set up tent schools in the relief camps of Sindh, but after the survey no one came back to them.
“Our area is still inundated. Almost all crops and houses are damaged. We will go back wherenver water recedes and land becomes ready for cultivation,” Din Mohammad Khoso of KN Shah who lives in the camp said, adding that the future of their children is at stake as they have given up education after the floods.
“We were told that all facilities will be provided to us at the camp. Neither we have drinking water, nor any health facilities. Many women have had their deliveries in this camp,” he said, adding that the people living in the camp go to Sabzi Mandi off M-9 and other areas and work as daily wagers to run their kitchen.
The camp had two makeshift mosques but no school. “Most of the people are extremely poor. How can they afford teachers or tutor salaries. The government and non-governmental organizations should come forward for this cause,” Nadir Hussain, a local activist who occasionally provides food and other necessary stuff to them, said.
The camp falls in UC Songal, sub-division Manghopir. Speaking to The Express Tribune, Mohammad Hassan Taluka Education Officer (TEO) (primary) Gadap Town, said that they had conducted the survey and submitted the report to higher authorities about the number of families, especially children.
“We have counted around 1,000 children among the 800 families living in the camp. They belong to different flood affected districts of Sindh,” he said, adding that 400 to 500 children are between 3 year to 12 years of age.
Talking about his recommendation, he said, “I recommend to the director school, government of Sindh, to establish a “tent city school” in the camp with water, sanitation and electricity arrangement. It’s now up to higher authorities to decide about it,” he remarked.
As the winter approaches, the people have started fearing how they will survive in the tents without proper clothes and blankets. “There are 98 pregnant women in this camp with 12 disabled persons and 150 orphan children,” said Shah Mohammad Channa, who with the help of some philanthropists has started capacity building of women providing them sewing machines.
“We have started this initiative on the advice of a friend living in Chicago, USA who financially helped us. We are selecting some skilled women who will be provided raw material for sewing, so that they can earn some money,” he said, adding that unskilled girls or women will also be trained in stitching and sewing.