Pashmeeno is the 35-year-old mother of nine children (the oldest is 21) who told me the same thing, the rich are getting richer and the poor getting poorer. She lives in a village near Peshawar, Pakistan. She was a student in our Open Doors Literacy Project so I was able to interview her on Skype with teacher Hassan translating. Her husband earns very little working in the fields. Hassan gave me a tour of their place on camera and in the outdoor cooking area with a gas burner we only saw a bowl of vegetables. The house is composed of two rooms with cots and no decoration, just electrical wires on the walls. I didn’t see any stacks of clothes or other possessions except for some chickens. Their toilet is a hole in the ground in the yard protected by a wall, emptied into the fields. I asked why there’s no vegetable garden and was told there isn’t enough water and good soil. Power is often off and garbage is thrown outside where it breeds unhealthy insects, said one of the students in our project.
Pashmeeno said women die giving birth because the hospital is so far away. With no access to birth control, babies happen according to the chemistry between husband and wife. Some families can’t afford to feed their children so they sell their daughters in an underground sales network. She said there are no government resources available to them. I asked about the possibility of village women working together on a money-making project. She dismissed the idea, saying there’s no unity in the village, people just try to get by. We suggested starting a microfinance project but didn’t find five women who were interested. In contrast, to contrast the poor and rich, Hassan showed me a relative’s two-story house with a modern kitchen and bathrooms and five servants who live on the grounds: a cook, driver, gatekeeper, housecleaner, and someone to do errands. Soon after I visited a large home in the Bay Area with five bathrooms and multiple computers, wishing for more equality for humans.