On January 21, 2014, a bomb blast targeted a bus full of Shia pilgrims returning from Iraq and Iran near the border town of Mastung in Pakistan, killing more than half of the 51 passengers. The 22 survivors include their children, spouses, parents, sisters and brothers. The Balochistan provincial government sent some survivors to the Agha Khan Hospital (AKUH) in Karachi for treatment. There, among many Karachiites who came forward to help them, a group of youngsters have stuck to the task of helping to rehabilitate them in the long term regardless of religious affiliations.
The volunteers, with no political or organisational affiliations, include Sunnis and Shias. After government aid stopped, they have arranged wheelchairs, follow-up operations and other treatment, as well as a fully automated electronic powered wheel chair for Sadat Husain, a former bodybuilder paralysed from the waist down. Details at this report.
Since April 2014, the volunteers have spent Rs 11,47,540 (about USD 11,475) on medical, travel, and other expenses for the survivors, mostly donated by people in Pakistan and abroad (PKR 11,30,000; about USD 11,300).
Six of the survivors still have follow up orthopedic surgeries, skin drafts, and other doctors appointments coming up in Karachi, some at AKUH, and some to the charitable Indus hospital with consent from the AKUH doctors, reducing the costs considerably (by 65 per cent). Even after one AKUH doctor waived his own fees and the reduction in cost thanks to Indus Hospital, there’s still a shortfall of USD $3,000 required for October. Details include:
- Return airfares Quetta-Karachi (Rs 16,900 each for five patients; total Rs 85,000)
- Transport, food and stay in Karachi (the volunteers rent rooms in a low-cost locality to put up patients who don’t have relatives in Karachi)
- Medical tests, x-rays, appointment fees, surgeries, colostomy bags, bandages and medications. This includes:
– Rs 50,000/± for five patients AKUH
– Rs 30,000/= for Sadaat’s treatment which includes daily physiotherapy, medicines and dressing for his wounds
– Rs 140,000/= for Sadaat and Zakir’s surgeries scheduled in October
Below: more on the survivors and their hospital / checkup/ surgery dates:
1. Sadaat Hussain, 37, was Mr Pakistan (2003) and Mr Hazara (2002, 2003, 2008 and 2010) has lower body paralysis. Before the blast, he worked two jobs, as gardener in the mornings and a guard in the evening. Father of a 5-year old girl, he had gone as a guard/scout to patrol the bus back to Quetta from the Pak-Iran border. After a speedy initial recovery, there is now no hope that he will ever regain lower body movement. He has five serious bedsores now; operation is scheduled for Oct 23 at AKUH. The initial surgery cost has been slashed to around Rs 35-40k after the surgeon Dr Hasnain Zafar generously waived his own fees.
2. Mujtaba Hussain, a 25-year old policeman, also went as a guard/scout (not as an on duty as a police person) to patrol the bus back to Quetta from the Pak-Iran border. His daughter is 8 months old; they live opposite Behishte Zainab, the Hazara graveyard, at Alamdar Road. Mujtaba’s fingers and right foot were badly fractured in the blasts. He has monthly appointments scheduled at AKUH; the next one is on Oct 17, 2014.
3. Salman Zakir Hussain, 23, runs his own general store in Mariabad, Alamdar Road. Zakir Hussain lost his right leg in the blast, and his left leg was badly fractured and developed MRSA infection. He needs an electronic wheelchair (USD 1,400). He is to undergo wound cleansing surgery at AKUH on Oct 30, to be operated by Dr, Haroon Rashid; cost Rs 85k.
4. Nasrin Fatima, 48, is a widow who lost her only daughter, Sadaf, 21, in the blast. She herself was severely injured with two fractured feet. She has a follow up appointment at Indus Hospital.
5. Kausar Ali Hazara (whose wife and younger daughter died in the blast) is a poet who lives in Nachari Camp area of Alamdar Road. He lost his long distance vision and has a follow up appointment in October.
6. Mehrin Kausar, 20, Kausar Ali’s surviving daughter is a zoology student who was in a wheelchair for a while. Glass shards in her eyes were surgically removed on March 19, 2014. At her last doctor’s appointment in August 2014, Dr. Azam Ali found she needed to undergo immediate eye surgery, which cost Rs. 60,000.
“Such sudden expenses arise all the time when the patient goes in for a regular check up and given that they’re in Karachi for a few days, the treatment cannot be delayed or scheduled for later,” says Anas Mallick, who spearheads the volunteers’ efforts. “So even if we raise a little more than the required amount, it always gets absorbed in costs and other requirements for the patients.”
The upcoming expenses (besides the October ones listed above), are surgeries every month till Jan 2014. Nasrin, Zakir and Mujtaba have skin drafting surgeries coming up at Indus Hospital. In Feb and March 2015, all six patients have follow up medical checkups.
The volunteers are working on setting up a trust fund for the recurring monthly expenses at least till March 2015. In the meanwhile, those wishing to donate may do so by sending their contributions to the bank account listed below, operated by one of the volunteers, Shumail Zaidi. The account, in her minor daughter’s name, was dormant and is now being used solely for the Mastung blast survivors’ funds. Shumail has a Masters in Mass Communication from Karachi University and heads the Pakistan Youth Alliance (PYA) Karachi Chapter. She tweets @Shumail_Z.
Bank account Details:
Account Title: Sarah Batool
Account Number: 1130 – 0070 – 0018 – 2801 – 3
Bank Al Habib Limited, Memon Medical branch, Karachi.
Swift Code: BAHLPKKA