With a three-year-old paralysed son, Akbari Begum understood the pain that parent went through when the crippling disease of polio struck their children. That is what motivated her to take the risk of vaccinating children for polio despite knowing the risks involved. And she sacrificed her life for the cause. Akbari was one of the two vaccinators killed in an attack in Qayyumabad on Tuesday.
“Her [Akbari’s] son is paralysed since birth. She was well aware of the agony of the mothers whose children were paralysed,” Zahida, a relative of the slain polio worker, told The News.
“She wanted to save as many children from the crippling disease as possible.”
Zahida said Akbari belonged to a poor family and a remuneration of Rs250 was not enough for her to leave her children at home for the entire day and go door-to-door to administer polio drops. “Akbari knew about the dangers associated with participating in the polio eradication campaign as she often told her relatives about the killing of polio workers in Karachi and other parts of the country. But she was not afraid.”
Zahida said the sufferings Akbari had faced raising a disabled child had motivated her to ignore the threat to her life, otherwise she could have earned a lot more money by working as a domestic aide or a factory worker like many of other women in her neighbourhood. Akbari was raising four more children in addition to her disabled son and while she worked, her in-laws took care of her children at a small, rented house in Qureshi Market, Orangi Town No 11½.