Name: Rashid Minhas
Location: Sundur Industrial Estate, 45km from the centre of Lahore on Raiwind Road, Punjab, Pakistan.
Does your spouse/partner live with you? I am living alone in Lahore now, after shifting here some four weeks back in search of better pay, while she lives in my village. The adjustment is hard.
What is your primary job? Driver with a company which makes medicines for poultry
What is your monthly salary? Rs11,000 ($111) from Rs8,000 ($80)
What is your household’s total income - including your partner’s salary, and any additional same sources? My salary is Rs11,000. I occasionally get a tip of Rs400 or 500 per trip when I go to Lahore with company officials. It varies from week to week but on average it is three trips per week. So the additional income would come to about 1,200 [$12] per month. The total income would come to Rs12,200 per month. I have no other income apart from this but I get support from my brother and father in terms of food and other items. from Rs8,000 ($80)
How many people are living in your household - what is their relationship to you? I live alone at the factory near Lahore while my wife and four daughters live in my village in Mianwali.
How many are dependent on you/your partner's income - what is their relationship to you? Five (wife and four daughters)
How much do you spend each month on food? Between Rs9,000 and 10,000 [$91-101] from Rs6,000 - 7,000 ($60-$70)
What is your main staple - how much does it cost each month? Wheat and rice main staple; cost about Rs3,000 [$30] per month. About 2,000 [$20] is on wheat. The prices have stayed the same, but I buy more - especially rice - as I now cook separately for myself. Rice costs about Rs68 [69 US cents] per kilogram, and I buy it by kilogram so I can cook what I need. Rice is easy to cook for me. I cannot make wheat bread [rounded flattened bread known as roti] because that takes skill.
How much do you spend on rent? No rent as I live in a small quarter at the factory and my family lives in a dilapidated house in my village.
How much on transport? This is very hard. If I go to my village it costs me at least Rs2,000 ($20) . I have minimized my trips to the village and mostly live in Lahore away from family, though I miss them. from $8-16.
How much do you spend on educating your children each month? I have now admitted my two daughters to a private school in my village. One is in class one and the other in class two. Their fees are Rs250 and Rs300 per month respectively. The total expenditure is Rs550 ($6) per month. previously daughters were not in school
After you have paid all your bills each month, how much is left? The only utility is electricity; the average bill for a month is Rs700 ($7.10) now but will go up in coming months due to hot weather. I am left with about Rs11,500 ($116) after paying the electricity bill. from $79.
Have you or any member of the household been forced to skip meals or reduce portion sizes in the last three months? Not really but you have to manage as per your income and situation. We have never had enough money to eat proper meals.
Have you been forced to borrow money (or food) in the last three months to cover basic household needs? Yes, it happens almost every month. I always borrow money but then I pay it back when I get my next salary.
“Previously, I was living with my family in my village. I drove a pick-up van to transport people and goods from one place to the other. I used to get a salary of 8,000 Pakistani rupees (Rs) [$81]. This was not enough. I could not afford decent meals for my family and could never realize the dream of sending my daughters to a school. So I decided to look for a better job.
“A friend told me that I could get a job at this factory about 45km from Lahore. I went there and was hired at Rs11,000 [$111] per month. This seemed to be quite an improvement. But I did not realize at that time how stressful it would be for me. I am living away from my family. My daughters are growing up and they need me with them. This has put me under a lot of emotional stress. If I go to see them, I have to pay at least Rs2,000 [$20] for the round trip-fare. My brother is going to get married next month and then there are elections coming up. I will have to go to my village for both these occasions. I am not sure how I will be able to budget these trips.
“I have decided I am not going to continue this job. I will go back to my village and live with my family. At the moment I am trying to arrange a small loan to set up a grocery shop there. I am also discussing with some people how to make use of my father’s land. He owns about 18 acres of agricultural land but it is dependent on rain. After suffering losses due to lack of rain, we stopped cultivating it. But some people say it can be used for growing trees or planting new varieties of crops which don’t need too much water.
“Despite my limited resources, I have now admitted my two daughters to a private school in the village. I have to pay Rs550 [$6] for fees every month. But it has given me some peace of mind that my daughters also go to school. But at the same time I am worried about their future. I pray to Allah to give me some resources so that I can do something for my family.
“My house remains dilapidated. I want to pull it down and build a new one but I am not sure if I will be able to do that in my lifetime. But I am thankful to God that at least he has given us this shelter and I don’t have to pay any rent.
“My only hope at this time is the coming elections. I pray some good party comes to power that can bring inflation down and do something to reduce the poverty. I am going to vote for Imran Khan. I think he is the best choice for Pakistan. We have already tested the other major parties.”
*Exchange rate as of 26 June, with US$1 trading at 99 Pakistani rupees