“Her slender hand sheathed in a black glove, Saira Nizamuddin gathered the fabric of her full-length abaya as she stepped across an alley strewn with rocks and trash.
The 19-year-old health worker walked alone, the mid-morning sun pressing down on the dirt streets and soaking into the black fabric covering her from head to toe. It was better this way, she thought. In the past, for security reasons, police officers had followed her as she visited houses to administer the polio vaccine to children.
Now, she and 10 vaccinators, all local women, were working unguarded. The low-profile approach was meant to assuage fears in their community that the vaccine was unsafe, forbidden by Islam or a cover for Western espionage — myths that have given the crippling virus, eradicated nearly everywhere else in the world, a lifeline in conservative Pakistan.”
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