Updated: March 4, 2021 10:54:38 am
Holding a polythene bag stuffed with newspapers in one hand and a walking stick in another, 70-year-old Muhammad Essa has walked the same 2.5-mile-long route for 35 years selling hundreds of papers on the streets of Mastung city, Pakistan. However, a steady fall in newspaper readership has left the visually impaired paperboy struggling to make ends meet.
“I have seen the rise and falls of the newspapers. I turned jobless during the first wave of coronavirus in Pakistan because the newspaper markets were closed during the pandemic,” Essa is heard saying in a video, which has now gone viral on social media.
While Essa was helped out by the people of Mastung, a town in Balochistan, the septuagenarian now struggles to keep his job going. “Who will buy the paper from me when everybody is on social media and on their phones?” Essa told Arab News. “There was a time when I used to earn more than Rs1,500 a day ($9.51) but now, even if I succeed in selling all my 22 newspapers, I’d earn Rs240 ($1.52),” he added.
Watch the video here:
#WATCH: For 35 years, Muhammad Essa has walked the same 2.5-mile-long route distributing hundreds of newspapers in #Mastung city. Now, with the rise of online news, #Pakistan’s most devoted, blind paperboy is nearly out of a job. || #Balochistan
Read: https://t.co/gc9dizOsc1 pic.twitter.com/iBrnoHeAAJ
— Arab News Pakistan (@arabnewspk) March 2, 2021
Essa, who used to beg on the streets in 1985, turned to selling newspapers on the suggestion of a friend. “I started my job as a newspaper hawker back in 1985 when then President Zia ul Haq announced beggars would be imprisoned in Pakistan,” he told the news website.
“I start delivering newspapers in Mastung city rather than sitting around waiting for others to help me, so I started selling daily tabloids,” he added.
The newspaper industry, among many others, was severely impacted due to the pandemic, with the lockdown disrupting the print and circulation of newspapers.
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