Rashid Minhas – “I am not a slacker. I am a very hard-working man”

“My father owns about 18 acres of agricultural land but it is a rain-dependent land. We get a crop if it rains at the right time and if it doesn’t, we suffer losses. So we have stopped cultivating it after suffering heavy losses two years ago.

“After that I got a job as a driver. I drive a pick-up van to transport people and goods. I am paid Rs 8,000 ($84) by the owner of the vehicle. This is not a good amount but there is nothing else that I can do. I am not educated. Our father did not send us to school. Actually when we were of school-going age, the village school remained shut for many years due to a feud between our tribe and another one which lasted for many years and in which many people lost their lives.

“I have four daughters. The eldest is about 10 and the youngest is only four months. I have never sent them to school. I do want them to study but I simply cannot afford it. If they were boys, I could have managed because a boy can go to school even if he is not wearing a shirt. But a girl needs to be properly dressed. So there are additional expenses for girls and I cannot afford even the primary expenses in the form of school fees, books and uniform, etc. I don’t mind having girls. But sometimes I complain to God that if he had given me daughters then he should have also given me the resources to bring them up properly.

“Good news? I have heard no good news recently. I am lucky that I don’t have to pay any rent because I own the house I live in. But it is in such a dilapidated condition that often I just want to tear it down. It was built generations ago. But I know I can never build a new one in its place.

“I am not in a position to buy new clothes and shoes for my family even on occasions such as Eid. I and my wife have been wearing the same old clothes and shoes for years. But last Eid, I borrowed money to buy some clothes for my daughters. My heart aches when I cannot do anything for my family. My father and my brother always help us. Whenever they go out they would bring something for my family also. I don’t know what would happen if they stop helping us in this way.

“I am not a slacker. I am a very hard-working man, but the problem is there is no work available apart from the one I am doing. I don’t know what would happen if I die today or become incapacitated in an accident or something. I have no backup. My children are growing up, expenses are increasing but my resources remain stagnant. I can foresee only worse days ahead.”

kh/ha/cb

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