Pakistani shipwreck sought help for disabled son

QUETTA, Pakistan — A Pakistani national soccer team player who died in a migrant shipwreck off the southern coast of Italy has embarked on the journey to find medical treatment for her disabled 3-year-old son, her husband said on Saturday. sister and a friend. The hospitals had told him that foreign aid might be his only option.

Shahida Raza, who also played for the Pakistan national field hockey team and hailed from Quetta in the southwestern province of Balochistan, was one of at least 67 people who perished in the sinking. The overcrowded wooden boat they were traveling in broke apart in the choppy waters of the Ionian Sea off Calabria before dawn last Sunday.

The boat from the Turkish port of Izmir carried people from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and other countries seeking a better quality of life in Europe. According to survivor accounts, the ship had 170 or more passengers before the tragedy occurred.

Raza’s sister, Sadia, said Shahida’s attempts to emigrate had one motive: “She just wanted her disabled three-year-old son to move, laugh and cry like the other children,” Sadia told AFP. Associated Press. “Shahida’s only dream was the treatment of her disabled child. She risked her own life after hospitals in Pakistan told her that overseas medical help might be the only option.

The boy, Hassan, was not on the boat and remained in Pakistan. He suffered brain damage as a baby and is also paralyzed on one side of his body, from head to toe. It was unclear how Shahida intended to help him by traveling abroad and leaving him behind.

“She was a brave woman, as strong as a man,” Sadia said. “My sister had her son treated at the Aga Khan Hospital in Karachi. He was told that if he was taken abroad, there might be a good treatment.

The Aga Khan authorities were unable to comment on Shahida’s case. Sadia said Shahida also approached the Combined Military Hospital in Quetta, who also said they could do nothing for their son.

“What a mother does for her children, no one else can. Shahida always wanted to handle things on her own,” she said. We are proud of our sister.”

Pakistanis paid tribute to Shahida across the country and in her village.

Photographs of her wearing the country’s national colors and sporting accolades have appeared on TV screens and social media, although it has been reported that most people knew her after her death, as sports women are not widely televised in Pakistan. Local media also quoted her family as saying they had previously spoken out about the lack of recognition and acknowledgment of her accomplishments.

Pakistani President Arif Alvi said Friday that Raza’s tragedy had “deeply moved” him because the country had failed to provide his son with medical facilities.

The president, who was speaking at an international conference on cerebral palsy, said professional training for health experts and an inclusive approach to society were key to welcoming people with disabilities.

Shahida’s friend Sumiya Mushtaq said the 29-year-old often expressed concern about her child’s health.

“The inability to recover from the disease in local hospitals forced her to find a better future for her son abroad,” she said.

His family in Pakistan on Saturday were still awaiting the repatriation of his body.


Associated Press writer Adil Jawad contributed to this report from Karachi, Pakistan.


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