Zarina Bibi, aged 46, lives in Meeziwam village, Tehsil Sararogha, South Waziristan Agency. Her husband, who was working with the Frontier Constabulary, was kidnapped and killed by unidentified men during the time of unrest in South Waziristan Agency.

Growing up, the only role Zarina had ever lived was being a hardworking homemaker. The death of her husband thrust her in a conundrum – how would she put food on the table for her children knowing she could not send her sons out to earn due to fear of them being murdered too. “After the death of my husband, we did not have any immediate source of income, the only hope was the pension of my late husband,” she said. It was a war between prioritizing lives or livelihoods.

However, owing to some family dispute, her husband’s brother not only denied her pension, but also forced her to leave the house. Devastated and helpless, Zarina fled to Karachi in the hopes of building a safe life for herself and her kids. She lived there for six months before moving to Bannu city.

Once the environment settled in South Waziristan, Zarina decided to return, “When I came back, our house was completely damaged and nothing was left there”. Without any permanent source of livelihoods, her family depended on food assistance from the World Food Program, and on the charity of local residents.

Zarina’s first glimmer of hope came in the form of the first female community organization, set up in collaboration between UNDP Pakistan, FATA Secretariat and the Poverty Alliance Welfare Trust (PAWT), in 2016.

The organization aimed at prioritizing the recovery of women in the area through providing them bouts of employment. Zarina was engaged for a period of 15 days, during which she did minor repairs to her damaged house. At the end of her work cycle she was paid PKR 7,000. “I am very happy that at least someone took the initiative to include women participants in their activities. UNDP through PAWT, gave me the opportunity to not only repair my house, but also paid me cash to support my family,” beamed a hopeful Zarina bibi, who is now positive about her future and is grateful that she was given this push to create a meaningful life for herself and her children.

Story by: Shahzad Ahmad, Communications Officer, Stabilisation and Development Programme, UNDP Pakistan & Somiya Khanum Social Mobilizer, PAWD

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