For the donkey-cart owners of Lyari who had lost their four-legged companions in the week-long exchange of fire between the police and neighbourhood fighters, good news finally arrived on Wednesday.
The Edhi Foundation distributed nine donkeys, each costing Rs40,000.
According to Anwar Kazmi, the Edhi spokesman, as a result of the animal deaths around 12 donkey-cart owners lost their livelihood. They made a living by hauling goods around the city. “We brought around 12 donkeys known for carrying loads from rural Sindh,” he said.
The residents say that most of the donkeys were killed at Abdul Khaliq Road which is near Ibrahim aka Cheel Chowk, the area worst-hit by the fighting. The cart owners used to tie their animals in an open yard in front of the Baloch School. Just across the yard they had set up a warehouse with tin sheets to store fodder and use it as a stable if it rained.
“We did not get a chance to transfer the donkeys from the yard to the warehouse when the police entered the area,” said Ghulam Muhammad, as he pointed towards one pockmarked with bullet holes. “The police would shoot at us even if we popped our necks out the door.” Ghulam Muhammad received one of the 12 donkeys. Almost every building in the street corroborated his story with their bullet-riddled walls. Ghulam Muhammad was the luckiest of the 12 men because his new donkey was just like his old one. The other recipients looked on with envy and claimed that the animals were from Balochistan, not rural Sindh, as Edhi officials claimed, and they were also cheaper. The men estimated the cost to be between Rs10,000 and Rs20,000.
But they were happy nonetheless. “I’m grateful to Edhi for doing whatever he could do for us,” said Muhammad Usman, who travels to the scrap market in Shershah every day and earns a living transporting goods for Rs400 on average. “Something is better than nothing.”
“What I’ve received can’t be a replacement for my beloved Kaka but I’m happy that I’d be able to make a living from tomorrow,” said Shahzaib, a 20-something young man. Shahzaib used to leave home at 9 o’clock each day for the timber market. “Since Suzuki-loaders have now become common, it depends on one’s luck to get to haul planks to and from the market,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 17th, 2012.
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