Not all TV channels simply focused on ratings: Missing girl reunited with her family -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Not all TV channels simply focused on ratings: Missing girl reunited with her family

Pakistan Press Foundation

In this digital era, hundreds of TV channels are merely a click away. The abundance of portals of information and entertainment has led to channels committing petty tricks against each other in the race of getting the limited share of audiences. The race of ratings is so severe that it has become difficult to differentiate between content of quality and content made out of desperation. The hype that a piece of information receives today is based on the gains it can have for the host channel, rather than the benefit it can have on our society.

In this clutter of media, there are a few channels that are creating content that directly benefits society even though the channel is not the brightest star in the sky of ratings. Health Television (HTV) is one such example which demonstrated its national presence and prowess for hard hitting stories by reuniting a disabled girl living in an Edhi Home in Karachi with her family in Punjab, after seven years.

Its primetime show is based on the philosophy of voicing the opinions of people that are suppressed in the society due to numerous reasons. In each episode the host highlights the issues of people living in underprivileged areas and tries to be the voice of those who are not heard. One such episode included the team of the show visiting an Edhi Home highlighting the stories of the lost and missing women who ended up there with a focus on bringing these people on television with the hope that those who are watching may be able to identify and reunite the lost women residing in this home.

The host spoke to a number of people, including 25-year-old Rashida Ahmed. Seven years ago, Rashida went missing from her home in Sheikhupura. She is a polio patient and struggles while speaking. She was brought to the Edhi Home in Multan by unknown individuals. Because of her inability to communicate with people, her rescue was a lot more difficult than it usually is. She was kept at that Edhi Centre for a week for if her family and relatives were to come looking for her, then they could find her there. However, that week went by without any news from Rashida’s family, after which she was moved to the much bigger Edhi Centre in Karachi.

Dr Farhana, the warden in charge at Edhi Centre Karachi, said, “Rashida was very emotional when she came to us and tried very hard to explain to us how she got there. She is a very lively girl but has waited a long time for her family to rescue her.”

While getting interviewed along with other residents of Edhi Centre, Rashida appeared to be a young and jolly girl. Due to her difficult life, she has always been a very sensitive girl. What she did not know is that when the show was being aired, her relatives were watching the episode. The same day, HTV Head Office received calls by panic struck parents of Rashida who, while living 100s of kilometres away in Sheikhupura Punjab, had lost all hopes of finding her and gotten the news of her appearance on this channel.

It was a miracle; something that not even the producers of the show could have ever expected to happen. While the team was aware that the work it was doing was to make a difference, but a difference this significant in the lives of some people is something that nobody could have even dreamed of making. The channel made the arrangements for Rashida’s parents to come to Karachi and get reunited with their beloved daughter, whose death they had mourned seven years ago after all their efforts failed to find her. It was an emotional moment when the father of Rashida, Ahmad Ali arrived in Karachi with the copy of the FIR he had filed seven years ago for the search of his missing daughter, in addition to the pamphlets of missing persons he had pasted all around his hometown, hoping to get a call one day if she was still alive.

Her father while speaking to the team of the show said that, “I couldn’t believe how she could be alive. But then I realised that nothing is impossible for the Almighty. We had tried everything but my faith has been restored in miracles of the Almighty, the Gracious.”

Dr Farhana said that, “a number of girls have now made it back to their homes through the help of media and channels who are making an effort to make a difference.” This incident, or rather a miracle, is something that nobody could have ever predicted. This channel has set an example for the rest of the media channels to follow. Not only does it remind the media of their original purpose of reaching out to people but also the individual responsibility of the entire journalism community to indulge in work that can make a difference in the society. Ratings may be temporary, but satisfaction of doing moral work and giving justice to your job is permanent. “You will get the reward of this. Your team and everyone who did this program will get the reward of this one day,” said the father of Rashida after being reunited with his daughter after seven years.

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