Ormara – the coastal community that strives for clean water
Ormara is like the rest of Balochistan–it has a population that yearns for basic necessities of life with water being one of them but needs considerable attention from the government to ensure it’s available within the reach of the common man.
While Prime Minister Khan may have delivered many speeches to bring about development and reform on the Western Route in Gwadar, Ormara may, well, take up a decade.
The major problem being the lack of potable water. A city where water becomes a luxury – gas or electricity is a thing of afar.
A village located atop a cavern mountain at the Kund Malir beach – happens to only raise fishermen. There’s no surprise seeing children want to become fishermen. If you ask them, it’s an escape from the everyday struggle, including sanitary purpose. It’s not just an occupation for their livelihood, it’s their luxury – the only occupation that seems to console their grievances. How ironic for a village that watches the sea from an offing – a sea that takes them only a couple of miles to get to soak their feet at the shore – but then having to strive for sufficient water for their domestic use and survival.
The struggle is evident and it’s not just one village. The folks in Ormara remember the firmness of every politicians’ voice, Aslam Bohtani during elections 2018 – cannot say their [the villagers’] imagination is vivid of the picture the candidates painted for them – for it is a tribe that doesn’t know how it is like to have sufficient water in the first place.
How do they survive?
The folks are dependent on their village well – which gets a refill twice in 15 days. The water is not clean and they eat white rice and fish. They wait for the time when two buses depart for the town so they buy grocery. If they get medical treatment, it’s from a hospital or clinics located in the city.
Villagers who want to learn
For another village, with no seashore till far-off – folks tend to become mechanics or have a desire for it.
Mukhtaar Ahmed, an electrician who hailed from Bhawalpur, apprised about the time when he first came here. “There were no cemented huts, only shacks. There wasn’t even any non-governmental organization (NGO) operating in the district.”
However, Ahmed speaks of the potentials in the youth there and how they seek professional growth. “They watch and observe, you help them a little and they pick more.”
“I look forward to becoming a mechanic myself,” said a boy in his late teenage years. “My elder brother earns Rs15, 000 a month.”
There isn’t much to anticipate about for the villagers – a culture day carnival in the town cannot do much for them to not worry that they will be coming back home to insufficient water for domestic use.
What do they bear with the water crisis?
“We have patients coming with Throat infection, Gastro, Abdominal cases, Upper Respiratory Tract (URT) infection due to contaminated water consumption,” Muhammad Ramzan, naval FCPO, spoke of the diseases that are most commonly diagnosed at PNS Darman Jah hospital.
“Malnutrition-borne cases are also on the rise,” Ramzan said, to which he went on to explain one of the reasons being negligence, stating that most people do not look before they drink.
“There is a dire need of awareness in the district regarding health, for which we have initiated awareness programs in the hospital as well as house-to-house talks to acquaint them with child health awareness.”
Language is a barrier, especially for the visiting faculty that flies from Karachi every month to examine particular cases which the hospital does not have permanent faculty available. The visiting faculty has issue treating patients who only communicate in Balochi.
“We inform the concerned patients beforehand about the arrival of the visiting specialists. However, the arrangement still doesn’t solve the issue of inadequate staff as the visiting faculty is not available when a patient needs to follow up on the treatment.”
PNS Darman Jah, a hospital that has currently one running block facilitating an estimate of 700 patients a day, while a couple of other blocks remain under construction, provides free treatment. It has 10 ambulances to run across Ormara as there are no other hospitals in the vicinity, except a bunch of small clinics operating in Ormara.
There are some hospitals far-off in Gwadar and Pasni, including District Headquarter (DHQ) Hospital, Gwadar.
“Many of the students are usually falling sick but the hospital is located in the town,” said Haani, a BSc. graduate who teaches at a two-room school the government built for girls in the village. “I have been teaching here for a year now after I moved here from Gwadar when I got married.
Speaking of education…
Earlier, a few girls used to go to the Boys Govt. School located at a short distance from here. Here, it’s easier for other girls in the village to come here on foot.
Out of total 31 schools functional in Ormara of which there are 2 boys’ high schools, 2 model schools, 1 girl’s high school, 7 girl’s primary schools and 19 boy’s primary schools – one has been shut while many others summon wrath on the teachers.
Yasmeen, Vice-principal of the secondary section in Bahria College Ormara, spoke of how other schools just rely on one or two staffers to teach all the subjects to schoolchildren which is only exploitation of one’s capabilities.
“There are very few teachers in government schools operating in Ormara, they hand over a dozen subjects to one or two teachers.”
Bahria College Ormara offers Quota concession on school fees to orphans and children whose parents are suffering unemployment and provides the finest schooling facilities to the students.
While it may be believed that the naval forces are to win applauds for introducing more services in education and health facilities, it is also because the army wouldn’t compromise on their children’s education or health in times of posting at Ormara or any other underdeveloped region.
However, at a water-scarcity level, where the ball may not be in a commoner’s court, transfer of skills can be on the radar – which flags the need for master trainers who would make doctors and teachers out of the population rather than relying on visiting faculties or wives of naval officials to assume offices in health or teaching faculty for the time being.