Madiha studies in the third grade at Zindagi Trust's non-formal
school for working children. Her family migrated to the
city of Rawalpindi from a small village in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
province. She was orphaned when she was only five when her
father's death left her mother alone to raise her and her
five siblings. Her mother found work as a maid and took
her along as a helping hand. She doesn't remember her family
ever doing well enough to afford more than one meal a day.
Despite the tragic loss of innocence, Madiha has a positive
and mature take on learning and loss:
"For me learning is anything that teaches you a lesson
- we learn both from the textbooks and from our daily life
experiences, whether they are good or bad. Learning is something
that is totally yours - you can share with others but nobody
can steal it from you."
She starts a typical day by going to work with her mother
in the morning where they clean houses till the afternoon,
when it's time to go to school. Right after getting back
from school, she does her homework. She then helps her mother
with household chores after which she spends an extra hour
and a half at night preparing for the next day's classes.
Her teachers are very pleased with her performance and active
participation at school.
Madiha was not always in school. At the house she helped
her mother clean every morning, she saw children going to
school and longed for their colourful uniforms, books and
bags. She dreamed of reading books and writing neatly with
colourful pens. She waited to empty the trash in the children's
room just so she could collect the torn printed paper -
looking at scraps of paper, trying to piece together the
words and pictures drawn on them was her favourite part
of the day.
She wanted to learn how to read and write and asked her
mother repeatedly to let her go to school. Despite her mother's
initial refusal, Madiha had faith that her mother's love
would one day send her to school. This happened when her
mother found out about Zindagi Trust's free afternoon schools
for working children.
Madiha remembers her first day of school fondly - bright,
friendly faces and teachers urging her mother to put all
her children in school, to give them the chance of a better
future. Today, two of her siblings are also studying in
the same school and Madiha aims to complete her studies
to become a teacher. She and her mother are thankful to
the support of donors like you who made the change in her