By Bilal Kuchay
Two brothers and two sisters in a Pakistani family are suffering from a rare skin disease that is turning their feet and hands into stone.
Nazir Bhatti , 50, and Abida Ali, 48, parents of seven children from Sujawal in the Sindh province of Pakistan are concerned about the future of their four young children – Habibullah Bhatti, 19, Mehrunisa, 15, Nasebullah Bhatti, 10, and Khairunisa, 6 – who suffer from a rare skin disease for the last three years.
The condition is turning their hands and feet into ‘stone’ and the siblings are not able to wear any sandals or shoes.
Their father, Nazir Bhatti, explained: “Three years ago, my youngest daughter, Khairunisa, got affected by a strange disease. A thick layer of skin grew on her feet which started getting tougher like stone within few months.
“We took her to a local faith healer who gave her some paste to apply on her feet.
“But within six months, three of my other children got affected with this condition.”
“A strange thick layer of skin started growing on their feet and hands.”
As a precautionary measure, Nazir and Abida sent their three other children, who were unaffected by the condition, to their maternal grandmother’s home.
The poor siblings have to walk barefoot even in the winters when the temperatures in Sujawal drops to as low as three degree celsius.
“They can’t wear shoes or socks. It is very difficult for them to walk during hot summers and cold winters barefoot.
“Sometimes they are in such a pain that my wife and I have to put water on their feet after every hour to soften their skin.”
Nazir says they have taken their children to several doctors but nothing has helped improved their condition.
“We consulted several doctors and local faith healers, who prescribed different ointments but nothing has improved in the lives of my children. Their skin is getting only tougher day by day.
“We are concerned about their future as they can’t go to school, do any work.”
Nazir works in a small restaurant as a chef and earns merely £3 a day.
He says he doesn’t have the resources to take his children to any bigger hospital for treatment.
The distraught father said: “With my earnings, I’m hardly able to feed my family. I don’t have the money to afford the travel expenses and take my children to any bigger hospital in Karachi or any other big city.”
However, a senior police officer Fida Hussain Mastoi from Karachi has decided to help Nazir, after a local volunteer shared pictures of his children with him on Whatsapp.
The officer says he was moved by the plight of the siblings and has already approached a senior skin specialist in Karachi for their treatment.
Mr Fida Hussain said: “When I saw the pictures of these poor children, I was devastated what they have to go through in these years.
“I’ve showed the pictures to a senior skin specialist in Karachi who believes the siblings are suffering from Epidermolytic Hyperkeratosis.
“I’ve fixed their appointment with the doctor and I hope things will change for them very soon.”