As soon as you enter the vicinity of Rerhi Goth, the poverty crossing its boundaries welcomes you with the smell of industrial and animal waste and piles of garbage laying everywhere. The sight of broken houses adds up to the already miserable surrounding. Apart from this dire environmental condition, drug addiction is another vicious menace that is adding up to the already existing problems; causing violence and other social problems with broken family structures. And the lack of medical and educational facilities top all the problems like icing on cake. The entire community of this goth is on the verge of a complete breakdown.
Rerhi Goth is Karachi's largest and oldest goth which is almost 300 years old with a population of around one million. Rerhi Goth, situated in district Malir Bin Qasim town covers an area of about 1.3 square kilometres. Due to the fact that it's located along the coastline, the major occupation of this area is fishing. This profession has been handed down for generations. Their profession is not sufficient enough to fulfil their needs; even the need to purchase mandatory commodities is hard to meet. People try their best to make both ends meet but in reality it's close to impossible.
However, it's the women empowerment in this down trodden area that is simply unbelievable. You can see women working with freedom everywhere, from working in the houses to selling food items, from running shops to taking care of children, and even working in the ships and helping in fishing with their menfolk. These women are capable of doing anything, any time and are an inspiration as they survive in difficult circumstances by combating every obstacle that they face everyday. Women especially mothers are like the heart and soul of any family system. This metaphor cannot have been truer than in the case with Rerhi Goth. Their patience and resistance to overcome any problem is tested quite frequently while men are nowhere in sight to help them out. And women like always are seen dragging the burden of every responsibility that comes forth.
Housewives contribute in the family income by sorting out fishes and prawns along with their husbands. Even by standing firm with their husbands and family they are unable to bring any improvement in their lives; a lot of pain but still no gain.
The ever growing problem of poverty and drug addiction is leading the community to a high number of divorces. Due to lack of awareness and education, drug addiction has become a common practice in this society. Men in order to escape their problems of daily life seek refuge in drug addiction and give themselves up to this poisonous habit. Because of the attitude of the men in this area, women are the ones who have to suffer deeply and like always, are the prime suspects of misery. They are forced to fit in the shoes of the male members by taking up the role of being the sole provider for the family. Along with working in the fishery they also have to run small food stalls as a source of income. They work 24/7 to hold their families together but mostly their efforts go in vain. The entire family system is hollow like an empty pitcher of water that is greatly affecting the younger generation. They do not have any option but to follow the footsteps of their ancestors and end up living a devastated life without any sense of satisfaction or happiness.
More than 98 per cent of the total population in Rerhi Goth is Sindhi. Moreover, they are blood relatives due to the inter marriage system that has been practiced for generations. This unbreakable chain of intermarriage has resulted in bearing adverse genetic disorders in children like black foot and many others. Children are born with crippled hands and feet and have a life span of not more than 16 years. All their lives they depend on their mothers for the fulfilments of their needs, and the mothers along with competing with the house chores and contributing to the family income have to drag yet another burden of these helpless children.
This community is completely alienated to the contemporary world, and are completely ignorant of modern day technology and education. People here prefer dying in pain and torment than referring to any medical aid or facility because this goth is practising a primitive customary life style. And even if some people out of the blue want to refer to a doctor then there is simply no authorised medical facility available to them. Even though it is such a densely populated area and has been there for so long not even a single hospital or clinic is in sight. Due to this unfortunate fact diseases spread here like wild fire. The saga doesn't end here, due to the severe lack of hospitals, doctors and nurses, the infant mortality rate is very high causing life threats to mothers. This causes more deaths among the female population, and the families are forced towards more torment and anguish with no mothers around to look after them when their fathers are already unavailable.
Along with these problems, the literacy rate here is also very low. Only 10 per cent men while 4 per cent women got a chance to acquire primary education whereas the rest of them are completely illiterate and are leading an ignorant life.
It seems as if life is closing in on them. The natural equilibrium is disturbed and the results are evidently chaotic. What's done is done, and unfortunately cannot be undone or changed; at least for the older generation. But there is still hope for the younger generation which at present is at stake, but can still be saved and improved by enlightening them with the light of knowledge and wisdom.
This is a land which even in our dreams, we would never imagine to live in. Basic human rights of having a healthy environment, food and clean water, educational and medical facilities are not available to these people. Rerhi Goth is in a state of complete chaos not only socially, economically and environmentally but also morally. The hand behind the destruction of this place is due to the denial of their social rights for almost over a hundred years. However, minor efforts are being made by NGOs and the government for the betterment of this area but they are insufficient and incompetent.
Immediate action needs to be taken for the betterment of this goth. The need of the hour is to provide sound education and health facilities to the people of this area so that their living conditions can be improved. If only a few candles are illuminated then its light will spread everywhere pushing the mist of darkness and ignorance away forever.