By Sonya Rehman
Lugging plastic bags full of toys and sweets; we made our way across the hospital’s parking lot to the admin block. We were at Children’s Hospital, in Lahore, hoping to distribute toys – both donated and brand new – to children in various wards at the public hospital.
This year, in July, one of my closest friends – Uzair Khan – initiated a Toy Drive in Islamabad which in turn, inspired me to initiate a Lahore chapter for the Toy Drive as well. Uzair and his friends in the capital had wound up donating toys to children at the SOS Village.
“The experience was so inspiring for me personally,” Uzair said, “We played and sang alongside the children, who embodied unbridled enthusiasm. We may have brought them a few gifts from the people of Islamabad, but they’re the ones who really gave us something- their joy and love without condition, and a subtle reminder to be less selective and inhibited with our smiles.”
After about a month and a half of collecting donations (a few friends and I spread the word through a Facebook event page), we were finally ready to visit the hospital and the Edhi Orphanage.
Muhammad Khan Sahib, a wonderful man in charge of the admin department at the hospital took us – friends and volunteers – from ward to ward. I don’t think any of us expected what we were soon to see and experience.
Each ward that we visited was full of extremely sick, underprivileged children. In some of the wards, the children were so tiny – some, babies a few months old – and were rigged up with drips, limp and fast asleep. Too weak to stir, or sit up. It was exceedingly painful.
Other children, particularly in the leukemia ward, were frail, with spotted skin and shaved heads. Their faces were gaunt, their eyes hollow.
During those two hours at the hospital, all of us, felt repeatedly stumped – our hands mid-way in the packets, ready to pull out toys – but just frozen, staring at an unbelievably unwell child. Were we doing enough? But how much is enough?
At one point I almost broke down when I saw this little boy wincing and sobbing. He was in his bed, while his father pressed his legs and his mother massaged his head. His tiny fists were balled up – he was in an extreme amount of pain. He just kept wincing and sobbing quietly, his cheeks wet with tears.
With a quarter of our donations left, we then made our way to the Edhi Orphanage in Gulberg where we donated the remaining donations to boys ranging from the ages of 6-13.
Below are pictures of the Toy Drive that were taken at the hospital and the orphanage.
May these photos inspire you to initiate a similar initiative in your city in the near future.