LAHORE – Millions of children are enthusiastically celebrating Eid-ul-Fitr today except 14-year-old Asad Ali, who lives with his seven siblings and parents in a single-room accommodation in the provincial capital. Courageous and ever smiling, Asad is a patient of brain-tumour and looks much younger than his age because the disease has seriously affected his physique.

Standing under a tree at Waris Road Chowk, holding the finger of his 60-year-old father Muhammad Rafi, a painter by profession, Asad is a personification of poverty and sense of deprivation is clearly visible on his innocent face.

“I am also fond of celebrating festivals like Eid, but they are only for the rich and healthy people,” he remarks. Asad starts to sob as he shares details of the ailment he has been suffering from for the past six years. Unfortunately, none of the City’s hospitals, including Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital, has helped him in any way.

Muhammad Rafi, a resident of Township, told this scribe that in 2007 Asad felt headache and was rushed to the Jinnah Hospital where doctors confirmed brain-tumour and referred him to the Children’s Hospital. “The administration of the Children’s Hospital instead referred me to the Mayo Hospital,” he said. Meanwhile, the ill-fated father sought help from the Pakistan Bait-ul-Maal, while the doctors at the Mayo Hospital continued his treatment but to no avail.

A neighbour suggested to the family to shift Asad to the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital where the child was operated for a few days after which the administration asked the family to either bring Rs2 million or leave the hospital. “I begged for the life of my child but the doctors snubbed me saying I was staging a drama like other poor families for the sake of my sibling,” Rafi stated with tears rolling down his cheeks.

“Subsequently, I borrowed Rs100,000 with interest and shifted Asad to the Children’s Hospital where he is comfortable, but the doctors have strongly recommended immediate operation. I am empty-handed and am also facing threats from the person I owe money to,” he says. Rafi has requested philanthropists and charity organisations to extend their cooperation and provide him financial help. His contact number is 0332-8123664.