With Hardship Comes Relief: Thar, Pakistan

There will come a time when all are questioned about each day they had lived, whether it was a day that brought calamity or calm, poverty or wealth, grief or contentment.

With Ayah 155 in Surah al-Baqarah of the Holy Quran, Allah (swt) tells His creation of the sorrows their bodies, minds, and souls are created to encounter in this life: “And certainly, We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives, and fruits, but give glad tidings to As-Sabirin (the patient ones).”

Such is the trial of the people of Thar in Pakistan.

In an arid desert where even the monsoon season has brought low amounts of rain since 2012, local crop has consistently failed and disease has ravaged through much of the livestock. Insufficient access to safe water storages, lack of adequate hygiene practices, and low access to healthcare services increasingly challenge basic living in Thar. In this dry area of southern Pakistan, malnutrition rates and risk of disease outbreaks continue with every day that passes.

Thar is a place where many aspects of life, including raising livestock and cultivating millet to make a living, are dependent upon water. In an area of 7,582 square miles with a population of 955,812 (as of the latest available census conducted in 1998), this is not nearly enough.

“Fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives, and fruits” – each is a cause of suffering for the youngest infant to the most elderly in Thar. The Provincial Disaster Management Authority reports 259,946 families are facing a severe crisis in the area. The devastation is even more disastrous given that most of Thar has minimal access to critical services, such as safe water, nutritious food, and essential healthcare. The six healthcare facilities currently operating in Thar have reported 521 deaths of which 311 were children.

For the average woman in Thar, fetching water from a faraway source for the entire family is one of the main responsibilities. Children, too, are often summoned to help with this chore as the consequences of water scarcity are so severe. Facing such a dire situation, women are often rendered unable to tend to other aspects of life, while children are kept from classes and schoolwork when spending time well into the night hours trying to gather enough water to meet the family’s day-to-day needs.

Just as some are tried through affliction, others find their test in blessings and abundance.

“Know that your wealth and your children are but a trial and that Allah has with Him a mighty reward” (The Holy Quran, 8:28).

Blessed with the abundance and the means capable of easing the trial of others, the Zakat Foundation of America donors have funded the organization’s efforts to intervene and attempt to soothe the suffering of the people of Thar.

In the coming months, ZF is going to support the distribution of 200 livestock amongst 100 of the poorest families across the region to aid the self-sustenance of the needy and vulnerable families. Another step further, ZF will be installing water pumps in 10 villages of the area to enable the local population to access water and use it to fulfill their daily life requirements.

“Verily, with the hardship, there is relief” (The Holy Quran, 94:6). While Allah (swt) tests human beings, He remains Ar-Razzaq, the Provider, and does not burden a soul beyond that which it can bear. He has granted some the ability to relieve the burden of others and it is in this spirit of compassion and service that ZF is reaching out to the people of Thar, Pakistan.

May Allah (swt) bless these efforts, and bring comfort and prosperity to the region.

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