Tunes of the Sufi song “dam-a-dam-mast-qallandar” instantly set a lady on dhamal, a traditional Sufi dance. She was an onlooker to a recreational programme for children at Edhi Home.
The shy lady was standing at the verandah of her shelter home yards away from the stage where children and some of their families were being entertained with music, dances, painting competitions, magic shows and gymnastics.
The Edhi Home inhabitants had never seen all of this before and it was brought to them by Asro, a non-profit organisation formed by a group of young girls and boys, most of them teenagers. Asro, a Sindhi word meaning “ray of hope”, was conceived by A-levels students Sindhu Javed and Sahil Fayyaz.
Palwasha Qaisar, Omar Jafri, Sundus Javed and others joined in later. They chose working for deprived and underprivileged children as their aim. Edhi Home, they said, was their first stop over in their journey.
“We thought these children deserved more than just charity,” said a visibly excited Sindhu. She struck upon the idea to bring colour, fun and entertainment in the otherwise mundane lives of the more than 60 children and their families at the shelter.
They set upon the mission to collect funds and arrange for the function. “Many people we talked to were forthcoming while some were not. We managed [to find] a sponsor and some friends also contributed,” said Palwasha.
Wearing white Asro shirts, the boys and girls remained on their tip-toes while playing games with children at a specially set up tent and stage, and serving meals.
Shireen and Farhad
Excited at the response to the show of compassion and love the young Asro girls and boys perhaps failed to gauge the essence of their effort. But there was a couple among their target audience that did it.
They were Edhi’s Shireen and Farhad. They were perhaps the oldest inhabitants of Edhi Home Islamabad. Their respective fate had brought them to this shelter home way back in 1991. Both were deaf-mute and were aged seven or eight then.
“Despite efforts their families could not be traced and they themselves could not speak,” said Javed Niazi, a caretaker at the shelter. Abdul Sattar Edhi gave them the names of Shireen and Farhad and their common muteness brought them into wedlock in 2004. They had their third child just a few months ago, all normal.
Farhad was dropped at Azad Kashmir Edhi centre by someone. “Perhaps his poor family could not keep a deaf and dumb child, so they abandoned him,” said Niazi adding that Shireen had a similar story.
Farhad is now a security guard at the shelter. The couple was given a separate room.
Shireen could not stay long at the function as she had to take her baby indoors but Farhad saw their elder son playing, eating and dancing to the tunes of songs sung by a local singer among other children.
The Asro youth served the children and their mothers meals at their seats under the tent. Drinking mineral water was a new taste for most children. They spent over three hours in the tent watching magic shows, listening to music and participating in other activities before moving on to the play-ground set up in the nearby lawn.
The young philanthropists had pre-arranged for collecting litter in special bags they had brought with them.
Like any other uptown bash, the party at Edhi Home went on till late into the night. Farhad had gone indoors to his family by then as he is used to sleeping early. Sindhu and friends left the contented Edhi children with the passion to bring more merry days to their lives.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 15th, 2011.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ