By: Kimberly Rodrigues
The family of Shahida Raza, a former Pakistani hockey star believed to be one of the dozens of migrants who drowned off the coast of southern Italy, is suffering even more, as they wait for her body to be found.
Raza had played for the Pakistani women’s team in international championships in 2012 and 2013 and was considered to be a vital player for the team.
After several tragedies in recent years, Raza desperately needed money and access to medical treatment for her three-year-old son, who had been diagnosed with a condition that caused paralysis.
Having exhausted all options in Pakistan, she left her son behind and legally travelled to Turkey last year, her family told AFP.
On Sunday (26), Raza boarded a wooden boat with approximately 150 passengers, bound for the central Mediterranean migrant route, which is known to be the deadliest in the world. Tragically, the boat sank, and she is feared to have drowned in the disaster.
“Shahida was constantly in touch with the family and I even spoke to her at 6:30 in the morning on Sunday, around an hour or so before the tragic incident,” her elder sister Sadia Raza told AFP on Thursday at the family home in Pakistan.
“She told me that she was fine and on a boat.”
Amid stormy seas, the overloaded vessel carrying migrants broke apart and sank, causing bodies, shoes, and debris to wash up along a long stretch of shoreline.
So far, almost 70 people have been confirmed dead.
Shahida Raza’s family was able to identify her body with the aid of an acquaintance living in Italy who used photographs and a cherished pendant that Raza was wearing around her neck.
However, the family has not yet received official confirmation of her death from either Pakistani or Italian authorities, nor do they know when her body will be returned to them.
“The whole family, particularly our old mother, is experiencing agony with every passing day,” her sister said, her fingers tracing the dozens of medals, trophies and team photographs that adorn a cabinet in their home.
With inputs from AFP