Small-scale surprises: What happened when this ‘chick’ crossed the road?

It helped her set up a poultry farm and lift her family out of poverty.

Sarfaraz Memon July 05, 2014


Sakina had seen the school building in her village of Gul Kartio, about 30km from Kamber-Shahdadkot-but she had never been inside. She and everyone else in the village knew no teachers came to teach here. A formal education was perhaps the least of her worries. For the longest time if Sakina had to do paperwork, she just put her thumb impression.

And so, Sakina just kept her head down and worked. This was the story for many women in this village. The only way they could keep body and soul together was by either toiling in the fields or by doing hard labour. Nothing they did lifted them over the poverty line.

Sakina struggled to feed four sons and three daughters and a husband who has a minor mental disability. Whatever she did was never enough. It was a miserable life as her husband was not fit to lend a helping hand.

But her fortunes changed when a team from the Takhleeq Foundation chose to focus on her plight and that of others in collaboration with Shell Tameer. They visited her village to select a cohort of women who desperately deserved help and Sakina was selected as one of roughly 100 women who would become road maintenance team workers. They were paid Rs4,500 per month to build and repair six metres of road daily and a portion of their income was saved in a Tameer Bank account in their own names.

After the programme ended in two years, Sakina had saved enough to start a poultry farm. It’s been over a year now and it has dramatically changed her life. She is raising a sixth lot of 1,750 chicks, which has grown from her first batch of 1,400. What she earned from the first five lots has helped her along well. Her son Tariq works with her full time and even her husband Haji Ameer Ali has joined the effort. “I always take hard work as a challenge,” says Sakina. “And I even took setting up this poultry farm as a challenge but today I am happy about running this business successfully.”

The first 15 days of purchasing a new lot are difficult, as you have to keep the chicks running around all the time. “Because if they sleep, they will become sick,” she explains. “At night we do shifts of four hour duties and during the day time, we all take care of the chicks.”

Sakina thanks the team that came from Shell Tameer to show her a few important technical aspects of running the business. “They educated me on how to take care of the chicks, their feed and medicines,” she says. “Now I know when to add certain medicine to their feed and water and how to administer medicine or vaccines to save them from different diseases.”

Sakina’s story has inspired other women too who have followed her example and set up five small-scale poultry farms in the village. “When I shared the idea about setting up a poultry farm in the village, everybody discouraged me except the Takhleeq Foundation and Shell Tameer,” says Sakina.

And as the businesses slowly grow, the villagers are realising how their infrastructure needs to expand. “We now need a metalled road to connect our village to the main road, so that, we can transport our product to the market, easily,” Sakina adds, for example.

The non-profit teams have watched Sakina change. “When she was recruited as a road maintenance team worker, she was a simple village woman, who knew little more than toiling hard to feed her family,” says Takhleeq Foundation Field Officer Zeenat Baloch. “But a new Sakina emerged and she surprised us with her abilities.” After she became financially self-sufficient, her level of confidence grew and now she talks like a solid business woman. “She is a sharp learner and therefore quickly started following the instructions,” adds Baloch.

Indeed, today Sakina no longer needs her thumb impression. She signs her name in Sindhi. She has even learnt with the help of the non-profit teams, how to do a little math. And that is the best kind of dividend from such an initiative.

Developing enterprises for the youth of Pakistan is meeting a significant need by providing alternative career options and helping individuals achieve socio-economic stability. Shell Tameer is working with its partners to transform young people into entrepreneurs that are not only self sufficient but who catalyse sustainable social development within their own communities. Join Shell Tameer to create opportunities for the youth of Pakistan by contributing generously to any of the following enterprise development funds. Your contributions will be matched by Shell.

For SOS Technical Training Institute Enterprise Development Fund: Account No. 01-1334859-02 Shell Livewire Trust - SOS Technical Training Institute. Standard Chartered Bank.

For The Hunar Foundation Enterprise Development Fund: Account No. 01-1334859-01 SHELL LIVEWIRE TRUST - The Hunar Foundation Technical Institutes. Standard Chartered Bank.

Visit our website, for information about our partners and how you can support them.

*Contributions will be matched only during Ramazan 2014 to a maximum of 100 trades per organisation

Published in The Express Tribune, July 6th, 2014.


Anonymous | 7 years ago | Reply

Highly inspiring. Who says village women who are not educated are dumb. My own mother did not go to school at all, but here in US she has been able to work in an automotive parts assembly line, following instructions, and saving some money. She is very confident in her abilities and along the way learned to spell her name in English. So, yes it can be done. More institutions should follow Shell's lead and help the poor in creative ways. There is a famous proverb which states, give a man a fish and he live for a day, teach a man or women how to fish and they can earn for the life time.

Tallal Hassan | 7 years ago | Reply

Applaudable and praiseworthy work by Shell and salute to the efforts done by Takhleek Foundation to help people from the grassroots.

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