Mai Saleemat Halepoto

Mai Saleemat Halepoto – A Great Barefoot Veterinarian of Thar

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Mai Saleemat HalepotoMai Saleemat Halepoto, 90, is a great lady of Thar, a symbol of service, character and courage. She visits the far flung villages of Thar even in this old age to treat the ailing animals

By Noor Ahmed Janjhi

Thar has been a cradle of nature. People are nature friendly. However, the natural environment of Thar has been passing through different disasters, sometimes natural and sometimes manmade. Some thirty years ago, there had been dearth of basic facilities like drinking water, health, education, communication etc. It was a far flung and remote area with lesser facilities of communication. In those days it was very difficult to get treatment for people as well as for livestock. Notwithstanding lack of facilities, people not only lived and survived in Thar but also loved to their motherland in all of the situations.

In such a trying conditions and hardships a few people proved a great safeguard of the downtrodden people of Thar. Ms. Saleemat Halepoto, 90, is one of them. She is a barefoot veterinarian doing the service since last sixty years. She took birth in village Tugusar of taluka Nagarparkar. She is very much outspoken and frank. I asked her about the service she is performing since six decades. She replied, “My uncle Mehran did it and the same legacy was transferred to me. It is because of the blessings of my ‘murshid’. I am doing it continuously”. Showing me a dark spot on her arm, she explained, “It as the sign of blessing.”

Ms. Saleemat who visits the patients in far flung villages even in this old age said, “It is the service and I cannot deny it as it is blessing by Almighty Allah”. Although she has not gone to any school for learning yet she advises prescription for livestock. She has devoted her life to the service of sick animals. She is very sharp in diagnosis even of acute and chronic disease.

She was an apple of eye of her family. She learned embroidery and wood work also. Her grandfather Mohammad Yousif was a skillful carpenter. She left carpentry and embroidery for sake of veterinary service. She is not married even. Besides, a barefoot veterinarian, she is a great generous woman of the village and known for serving food to the guests. She is known for his hospitality. The people use to visit her to get examined their livestock.

Renowned scholar, Dr. N A Baloch has given a dialogue with her in his book ‘Rehan Heeran Khan’ under the title of ‘Sindh joon Manaitiyoon Oratoon’. He met her on 30 September 1978. The dialogue is about the treatment of cattle.

She is also known for her outspokenness. I have observed many such discussions also. During the discussion or reflection on the sick animals, she advises the owners bluntly. In a recent meeting with her, I observed her sharpness of diagnosis and outspokenness. A farmer took his animal to get examined as it was feeling sick. She instantly shouted, “Why you have done such cruelty on your mother and did not water her for three days. Go and care the animal. There is no disease to her”. It is sharpness and wit of her diagnosis. In lieu of her service, she has been awarded in 1985 by Syed Ghous Ali Shah, then Chief Minister Sindh. Recognizing her services, Ghullam Muhammad Janjhi Foundation has awarded her with Lifetime Achievement Award. She is a great lady of Thar, a symbol of service, character and courage. There are so many other ladies in Thar, serving silently in the different fields of life as hospitality, handicrafts, conflict resolution, singing, education, social service etc. as this is the motherland of Marui, a symbol of patriotism, courage, patience , simplicity and resilience.

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About the Author

Noor Ahmed JanjhiNoor Ahmed Janjhi is a senior educationist based in Desert District Tharparkar Sindh. He is author of several books in Sindh and English on folk literature including two poetry books.