Winter and the Poor: The Fight for Pulling Through

Winters are the happiest and the most trying time of the year for billions worldwide. People are preparing for holiday festivities round the clock and looking forward to year-end celebrations. On the other hand, the rest of the world continues to struggle as temperatures drop frighteningly low. It also gets to a point where people freeze to death or get frostbite.

Every year, over 5 million people die because their bodies cannot adapt to the change in temperature.

That is a BIG number!

Colder weather means your body has to work twice as hard to ensure you can carry on with your everyday routine. After all, don’t you consume twice the amount of food you normally eat during winter?

Almost every country in the world faces extreme winters now, thanks to the climate change, and Pakistan is no different. Unfortunately, Pakistan is among the countries that suffer at the hands of pollution caused by first-world countries.

A country with normally a wide range of temperatures, Pakistan has been seeing extremely cold winters over the last few years. Year after year, millions of people living under the poverty line have been facing the harshest winters without adequate food, shelter, or clothing.

It’s the survival of the fittest. Quite literally!

Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit-Baltistan, and Kashmir are some of the coldest regions in the country. Temperatures drop below the freezing point, i.e., zero degrees, resulting in heavy snowfall and chilly winters.

These regions are some of the most underdeveloped ones within the country, making the lives of the inhabitants tiringly difficult.

Despite living in the coldest regions all year round, the residents do not have access to adequate winter gear or means to keep themselves warm during the peak winter season.

This year, the situation is expected to be no different as more and more people fall below the poverty line and struggle to make ends meet due to rampant inflation, inequality, and uneven distribution of goods.

Gas is a basic commodity relied on in the country for cooking, heating, etc.

Like every year, gas shortages have already started across the country as soon as winter showed its first glimpse. Unfortunately, Pakistan does not produce enough gas for all its citizens.

However, this year, the gas shortages are graver than the previous years. Such issues affect everyone all across the country; even a city as big as Karachi faces prolonged gas shortages during the coldest times of the day.

As there won’t be ample gas for everyone, people will now have to look for other ways to keep themselves insulated. Alternatives like LPG are far too expensive for a daily or minimum wager, let alone for someone who can’t afford necessities to purchase.

Furthermore, due to this year’s floods, Pakistan is more likely to suffer from icy-cold winters. In 2022, from June to October, almost the entire country was submerged in water, with millions of individuals displaced internally and left with no food, water, or shelter.

According to UNICEF, around 33 million people have been affected by floods and rains, of which approximately 10 million are children. The provinces of Balochistan, Sindh, and Punjab were affected the most by these floods, leaving the entire country in dismay and despair.

Due to the irreparable losses and waterlogging caused by the floods, most parts of Sindh are expected to receive an intense winter this year.

From having homes that could barely stick together during heavy rain to living in tents with no guarantee of survival, flood affectees are going through the unimaginable.

After losing everything, the flood affectees have had to move from one rescue camp to the other and finally make their way to the metropolis, i.e., Karachi, leaving everything behind that may already have been destroyed.

Having no roof over your head is already worrisome, but with winters expected to be colder this time round, everyone has a reason to worry even more. Because of the losses caused by the devastating floods, more and more people have turned into, what our society calls, outcasts.

You may have heard of, seen, or come across these people irrespective of what part of the world you live in. These people have no place or one to go, meaning they have no home or family. Ring any bells?

These are perhaps the most vulnerable individuals in society as they are cut off entirely and paid no heed to when they need it the most.

It is unimaginable how these individuals – with no shelter, food, or adequate clothing – will survive the bitter cold winter.

Immigrants from neighboring countries and provinces, people who were thrown out of their homes, druggies, addicts, and people that reside on the streets are some other examples of these outcasts.

Most of the outcasts you may see are children with no choice but to beg, collect trash, or do menial jobs for their survival, putting their lives at risk daily.

Normally, the masses turn a blind eye to them without realizing what these people go through on a regular basis, and for that reason, they continue to live the way they do. All they need is a little help, some guidance, and your support to turn their life around.

These individuals have no belongings or home, so they seek refuge wherever possible, be it on streets or in sheds, and carry on in the hope of survival. Since they have no one to come up to or ask for help, they are among winter’s easiest targets.

Imagine having to sleep during winter without warm blankets or even ample clothes to cover your body to keep you warm…

That is how grave the situation is for these individuals.

Despite all odds, the people of Pakistan manage to pull through the winter season. Being a philanthropic country, Pakistanis have always extended their hand to help the underprivileged, needy, and ignored.

However, no help is enough as the situation worsens every year. This habit of lending support must continue as every little deed of kindness adds up.

I would conclude this write-up with a big advice to you:

Stay kind.


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