Maseeha - The Start of Something New
For most of its recent history, the hilly hamlet of Pind Begwal has had very little in the way of positive healthcare developments. Although it is a rural suburb of the federal capital, it could not resemble it any less: the nearest hospital is forty minutes away by car, and not a single doctor can be found attending in the village. The only medical facility is a rundown and poorly stocked Basic Health Unit, established as part of a series of reforms during Zulfiqar Bhutto’s government, and from the look of things, probably not properly maintained since.
In sharp contrast to this dreary history, 2019 looks to be opening on a positive note for Pind Begwal. Through the herculean efforts of the dedicated team of workers of Saving Nine, an organization dedicated to improving first-aid literacy and medical first-respondent capacity building in Pakistan, change has finally come. It has arrived in the form of an ambulance (aptly named Maseeha, or Messiah) that now connects Pind Begwal to the larger medical infrastructure of the capital region. Maseeha is manned by three locals, who have been vetted and selected for their task after undergoing a rigorous first aid training regime by Saving Nine, and they are now capable of providing emergency aid and support to any patients on the ambulance as it ferries them to the nearest hospital. On top of this, the dispensary at the local BHU is to be restocked, and the presence of a certified doctor to be guaranteed there.
The launch of this ambulance was marked by a Dua-e-Khair on the 5th of January. In attendance were the Saving Nine team, many invested villagers, and a number of other people who were vital to making the ambulance a success. Among them were Ms. Zahida Shaukat, who became the chief donor to the ambulance in the name of her recently departed son, the late Syed Hashim, and asked the people to pray for his soul. Also essential was the UC Chairman for Pind Begwal, Mr. Raja Qaisar Ghaffar, who cooperated with the Saving Nine team every step of the way: providing them venues for first aid training, helping them identify potential ambulance drivers, and generally being a motivating force. Notably present was also MNA of NA-52, Mr. Raja Khurram Nawaz, who had come to cut the ribbon and mark this auspicious occasion.
Many speeches were made, and much thanks was given. It was clear from the event that Saving Nine’s goal was not merely to provide an ambulance (though that alone would have been a significant change) to the village, but to engage with the community and improve its ability to rely on itself in times of need. That is why, separate from the ambulance, Saving Nine has been offering first aid training every Sunday to whoever is willing to learn, so that the general capacity of the population to protect themselves is improved. Perhaps this is what has made their initiative so popular in Pind Begwal: the villagers do not perceive it as an imperiously given gift, but rather as a genuine attempt to engage them so that they can continue taking their destiny into their own hands.
Of course, the greatest benefit of these developments is to those who are at risk of death by some form of injury or trauma in Pind Begwal. Hitherto this point, many who were hurt would have suffered permanent damage or death without any chance at fighting back. As CEO Saving Nine Usama Javed Mirza pointed out in his speech, however, “every human being has a right to treatment and to first aid in their times of need.” These rights may not be guaranteed yet, for which series of governments must be duly condemned, but organizations like Saving Nine are doing their utmost to make them a reality. Every life saved is a victory over an unacceptable status quo. And, as ambulance driver Moin reminded everyone in his address to the community, “to save one life is to save all of humanity.”