Our summer project for this year was carried out at the Women’s Central Jail in Karachi. The women’s jail currently resides 80 women and 21 children and we took it up as our responsibility to provide them with Ramzan packets this year.
One of our mentors, Ms. Aisha Chapra, has been teaching yoga at the jail for nearly two years and she guided us as to how to go about making the Ramzan packs for the women. She asked the women what exactly they needed, re-checked with the Jail admin and staff and assisted us throughout the project.
With the help of a private donor, a week before Ramzan, our team prepared 71 packets consisting of Rooh Afza, gramflour, rice, lingerie and sanitary pads for the women. The packets for children included games, coloring books, stationary and candies for the children. Ms. Chapra also provides hygiene packs and other basic necessities to the women at the jail, regularly.
When we met these women in the jail on the day of the distribution, we were rather shaken and awed at the same time. One reason was because we feared that we would be walking into lock ups with dangerous ruffian looking women who would just be eyeing us as we distribute the packs. We were taken quite by surprise as we were led into a compound with barracks on either side and hushed inside by the inmates themselves who not only guided us in, but a few young ones even helped us distribute the packs, made tea and juice for us, chit chatted about their lives and how grateful they are and then showed us around the compound and the barracks. We sat in their barracks where they sleep each night and were told that only 13 of these women were actually convicted of the crimes that they were in for, rest were on trial that have been pending for a very long time now. Most were sent to jail by their families or in-laws just to get rid of them and this compound was their life now.
Two of the women were just about our age, one had recently taken her masters in IR exams from the jail. She had been living there since she was 12. The other was not very keen on telling us much about her personal life but could not stop praising us for making the extra effort for her. She teaches Montessori to the children in jail. She also told us this would be the first time in jail, that they would cook pakoras in Ramzan.
We were touched by the reactions of these women and how just a little thought made their month so much better and how we made them look forward to something that is so trivial for the rest of us.