Sindh govt announces free house for Karachi’s rickshaw girl

KARACHI - The Sindh government has announced giving a house to a young woman of Karachi, who by going against the trends of the society had joined the male-dominating profession of driving auto rickshaw to support her family after her father’s untimely demise.
Alisha Abdul Jameel, a resident of city’s Drigh Road locality, is the youngest among her sisters and wanted to fulfil the wishes of her late father Abdul Jameel, a rickshaw driver who had no son and he taught his youngest daughter to take the bull by the horn. She lives in a two-room rented house in the Drigh Road area of the city along with an unmarried sister and mother.
After Express News highlighted her plight recently, the Sindh government decided to buy her family a house in Shah Faisal Colony of the metropolis as a gift to “Pakistan’s first female rickshaw driver”.
The 199-yards-house however needs some renovation and repair work. The government has assured that in a few days not only the house but also the property related documents will be handed over to Alisha.
Nawab Ali Wassan, special assistant to chief minister, contacted Alisha and assured her of the provincial government’s all possible assistance on Saturday. The special assistant said the family will move to their new home in a few days.
The poverty-hit family burst with joy after visiting their new house and thanked the provincial government and Express News for highlighting their financial troubles.
Pakistan’s first rickshaw driver was first discovered by this scribe a few days ago carrying passengers in a rickshaw on the city’s Shaheed-e-Millat Road. The hardworking woman had said that she could only study till the 8th grade and had no source of employment except for a few jobs in different factories offering a very meagre salary.
Seeing the tough financial situation ahead, Alisha took it upon herself to become the breadwinner in the family and not seek financial assistance from relatives. She said that she faces criticism from some of her relatives for running rickshaw but added she ignores them and focuses on hard work and providing for her family.
“I have the backing of my mother so I didn’t give up and I don’t care about anyone else,” she added.
Like other rickshaw drivers, Alisha too faces difficulties while searching for customers. “For my own protection, I try to offer rides to mostly families or women,” she added. Alisha said that if her rickshaw ever breaks down, she pushes it herself and reaches a mechanic to get it fixed. The girl said that a big chunk of her income goes into buying petrol for her vehicle, lamenting that the government had jacked up the fuel prices. “A large chunk of my money goes into buying petrol which is very expensive nowadays... I don’t earn as much as compared to the hard work I put in,” she added.