Parveen Rehman, an influential aid worker in Sindh, was killed recently when she was shot twice in the neck while traveling through the Orangi area of Karachi. Rehman was the leader of the Orangi Pilot Program and her funeral was attended not only by friends and family but national officials and members of the development community.
The Orangi Pilot Program was founded to help the inhabitants of the region’s largest squatter settlement to escape from severe poverty. The program helped locals maintain their own sanitation systems, build suitable housing, and keep contact with regional micro-finance banks. While no armed group has claimed responsibility for the killing, many believe that Rehman may have been killed because of her involvement in efforts to study and record illegal land grabbing by large corporations in the area. Rehman had reportedly received death threats in the past and was even kicked out of her offices once by armed men.
This story should really serve to remind us that there are people working around the world to make it better. Rehman’s story is really one of bravery and is more than honorable. After the two attacks in the last year on aid workers in Nigeria and Pakistan we should truly honor the work that these people do and the risks that they take in order to help others. Really, lives such as their demonstrate the meaning of “heroism”. Hopefully we can all take a moment to think about Rehman and the amazing people like her working in the field, in the offices, and in government to work toward real change.
– Kevin Sullivan
Photo: The Nation