Zunaira Malik is a little girl only ten years of age. She has two sisters and three brothers. She belongs to a poor family. Her father passed away when she was a mere six years old, leaving her mother the sole breadwinner and the primary caretaker of six children. Due to extreme poverty, Zunaira was unable to enroll in school. Instead, she began to help her mother manage the household expenses by working alongside her. At the ripest age of her primary sociological development, where Zunaira and her siblings should be able to explore the rich tapestries of education and the universe of knowledge that exists out there, Zunaira has no choice but to assist her mother in helping assist the lives of others who have been born into far more privileged families. It is deeply unfortunate how people are born into poverty. It is almost a simple game of luck that determines which circumstances an individual will be born into. We should never forget to contextualize the privilege we hold in Pakistan: we have the ability to enjoy excess in a country with where poverty reigns supreme.
Members of our committee approached Zunaira’s mother and convinced her to enrol both Zunaira, as well as her two younger brothers, in the NFE Class at the Community Learning Centre. “Zunaira was keen to get an education, but our circumstances forbade us from being able to realise her wishes,” said Zunaira’s mother.
“Before enrolling in the NFE class, I had no information about what constitutes child rights, or even basic human rights. I had no idea about the legal age to get married. I gained information about child rights and human rights from the classes,” Zunaira shared.
Zunaira has now successfully completed second grade, and has now enrolled in third grade at the formal public school, with her mother’s consent. She has shown herself to be a promising student, as well as the top debater in her class. She has extremely high hopes for the future. Zunaira’s life changed for the better thanks to her education, and now she wants to help do the same for others. She wants to pursue a career in education and become a teacher. A year ago, Zunaira could not have dreamed that she would have had the ability to secure a year of learning, and now has a brightly lit future ahead of her which is brimming with possibility. Zunaira and her siblings no longer have to restrict themselves to only professions with menial incomes like her relatives had to. Zunaira’s mother’s decision to enroll her children in school will not simply have positive consequences for the children, but for her later on in life as well. Zunaira will be able to assist her family and provide a comfortable life for them. Like a tree, education can also fill one’s life with abundant blessings. However, the fruit of your labour can only be acquired as long as you water the tree.