Former Pakistani national field hockey player Shahida Raza, seeking a better future for her disabled son, enlisted human smugglers to get her out of Pakistan. Her life ended this week off the coast of Italy when the boat carrying her and many others sank.

According to her friend and former teammate Summaya Kainat, the 27-year-old Raza left her home on the outskirts of Quetta, in southwestern Baluchistan province, four months ago for neighboring Iran and then Turkey, with the aim of eventually reaching Italy or Australia and seeking asylum.

Raza was a member of the Shi'ite Muslim Hazara minority, a sect often targeted by Islamist militants, and had opted for asylum because she believed it was easier to gain refugee status after illegally entering these countries than to get a regular visa, Kainat added.