Shahida Raza, a Pakistani professional hockey player, tragically lost her life in a boatwreck off the coast of Italy on Sunday.
Shahida, also known as Chinttu among her acquaintances, was a well-known Pakistani athlete who had represented her country in international hockey tournaments. Besides hockey, she also played football at the domestic level.
However, Shahida was facing tough circumstances in her personal life. Sources close to her family revealed that she was a single mother who had gone through a divorce, and was struggling to provide a better future for herself and her son.
According to her sister, Saadia Raza, Shahida had embarked on the perilous journey to Italy with the sole purpose of seeking medical treatment for her three-year-old son, who was suffering from a serious medical condition.
Saadia revealed that Shahida had called from the ship while on her way to Italy, having departed from Turkey four days prior.
During the call, Shahida expressed her gratitude to God that she was almost at her destination and spoke of her plans to call her son and take him for treatment once she arrived in Italy.
However, the call abruptly ended, and they were unable to reach Shahida again. Shahida was only 27 years old when she died in the shipwreck, which claimed the lives of over 60 passengers.
The passengers hailed from Afghanistan, Somalia, Syria, Pakistan, Iraq and Iran, all attempting to enter Europe illegally.
Shahida's family disclosed that her decision to undertake such a hazardous journey was due to her son's condition, which required urgent medical attention. He had suffered a stroke at just 40 days old, which left part of his brain damaged, and one side of his body was paralyzed.
Despite seeking treatment for her son in several hospitals in Karachi, Shahida was left with no option but to travel abroad in search of treatment.
She was growing increasingly desperate to help her son, whose inability to walk and move normally had deeply affected her.
"She didn't want to see her son lying down helplessly," Saadia said. "She said, 'I can't see my son like this, I want him to walk like normal children, that's my only wish.'
After news of her tragic death in the boatwreck, the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) Vice President, Shehla Raza, and the PH Women Wing Secretary, Tanzila Amir Cheema, along with other members of the hockey community, expressed their condolences over her untimely demise.