Instead of the mundane rallies and seminars organised to observe World Thalassaemia Day, the Wajiha Thalassaemia Centre in collaboration with the army arranged a much more fun event on Tuesday.
Over 150 thalassaemic patients from Swat valley, along with their parents and attendants, were invited at a lavish picnic buffet at Shuhada Park in Saidu Sharif, where some not-too-taxing sports were also organised for the patients.
“I am very excited to be here,” said Tawheed, a 12-year-old girl from Guli Bagh, who has thalassaemia. “[The organisers] gave us gifts and sports stuff,” she said, accompanied by a bunch of children involved in the numerous games at the event.
Among them was Abdul Aziz, a sixth grade student who gets blood transfusion from Wajiha Thalassaemia Centre. Aziz said he loves cricket but as days of the transfusion near he is too fatigued to play. He aspires to be a pilot one day.
Ten-year-old Shahid from Marghazar valley sat quietly on the sidelines playing Ludo with a friend he made at the buffet. “I would play with other kids but my doctor told me not to for some time,” he said.
Father of a thalassaemia patient, Gul Sherin from Matta, had many praises for the Wajiha Thalassaemia Centre. “Before I had to request, and a times beg, people to donate blood for my son’s treatment, but since the centre was set up, I don’t have to worry about that anymore.” Begum, whose granddaughter is thalassaemic, concurred. “During last Ramadan, we searched eight colleges but could not arrange blood for a few thalassaemia patients,” she said. “Our prayers go out to the centre.”
The woman behind it all, Wajiha Thalassaemia Centre Director Mussarat Ahamd Zeb, said, “We can’t take their disease so we thought we could give them a day of fun.” She said she was glad that the army honoured her idea for the event and helped made the event a success.
Of the over 7,000 registered patients of thalassaemia at the centre, 4,000 belong to Swat valley alone. Zeb said that much needs to be done to educate people on ways to prevent thalassaemia and the different treatment options for patients with the disease.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 9th, 2012.
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