Meet Sawan. A 15-year-old boy who lives in Lahore with his five siblings. A slum dweller. A child labourer. A top position holder in school. An eternal optimist.
When Sawan was 11, he found work as sales help at a crockery shop. The 2000 rupees a month he made were neatly deposited with his father, a garment factory worker who needed all the financial support he could get to support his family of seven.
Thankfully, Sawan’s father knew the importance an education could make in eventually transforming their lives and enrolled his children in Zindagi Trust’s free primary schools for working children.
When he first started, he struggled with following the lessons as an older child in primary school. However, he was committed to working hard on his studies and was optimistic about things turning out well in the end. His teachers saw his devotion and never-say-die attitude and offered him remedial classes at home.
He made great progress and ended up with at least a B grade in all his classes, eventually finishing primary school in the top 10% of his class. Subsequently, he was sponsored by Zindagi Trust to continue his education in a private secondary school where he now studies in the 9th grade. A diligent and passionate student, ranked by his teachers as one of the best in his class, he bagged the 3rd position in the school’s last annual exams in March.
From difficult courses at school to rough days at home after his father loses out his daily wages due to political strikes, Sawan is always looking for the silver lining and providing a cheery outlook to his friends and family. Displaying an unbreakable spirit, he advises his friends that optimism can give them to courage to overcome any challenge.
In his community, there are hundreds of children in the same situation as Sawan. What makes him stand out is his positive attitude and thinking. Today, in addition to working at the crockery store, he is delighted to have started doing door-to-door sales and deliveries on Sundays to make some extra bucks. At school, he is excited to have made it to the stage where students prepare to take their first board exams which determine their college admissions.
“I never take anything for granted. Challenges have helped me improve my life.”
He looks forward to performing well in his Matriculation exams within the next two years after which he plans to continue his studies privately while getting a better part-time job, maybe in an office. His aim in life is to join the army to serve his country.
To support the secondary education of graduates of our primary school program for working children like Sawan, please check out the links below.
Amna was six when she and her two sisters lost their mother. Her father was a driver who worked from 7 in the morning to 9 at night. There was nobody else at home to look after the girls, so their maternal aunt taught Amna how to do the household chores. She also taught Amna how to do embroidery on scarves, in an effort to enable her to support her father's meagre income from home. She rose to the occasion, demonstrating a sense of responsibility beyond her age and soon become an key contributor to her family.
Growing up in poverty, her father struggled to enrol her in school, so she joined Zindagi Trust's Paid to Learn programme, which provides an accelerated primary school education to urban working children. Always a committed student, she graduated at the top of her class and qualified for the trust's Secondary School scholarship, through which she was placed in a private school where she is now studying in the 7th grade.
Amna is a regular and conscientious student, keeping her teachers happy with her academic performance. Having seen life's struggles up close at a raw age, she seeks out the most from her school experience by participating actively in co-curricular and extra-curricular activities. She has won prizes in speech competitions and for tableau performances.
She says that her family's hard times have taught her how move on in life and made her realize her potential.
"We curse adversity because it ruins our lives but it also shows us ways to come out of it stronger," she says, words you wouldn't expect from a seventh-grader. She wants to run a vocational training centre at home, so others like herself and her family can find a path out of poverty.
Amna, and other star graduates of Zindagi Trust's primary education programme for working children in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad have truly inspirational stories of struggle both at school and at their workplace or home, being burdened with the responsibility of supporting their family income as children. Your support helps make them aware of their rights as children, as workers and as citizens and, most of all, empowers them as responsible future citizens of Pakistan. We would like to thank you for your tremendous support and hope you will continue to donate to the programme to help sustain some transformations out of poverty and illiteracy.
Fareeda is a 10th-grade student who lives with her mother and two siblings. Unfortunately, she saw hardships in her childhood that no child should suffer. When her father abandoned the family, Fareeda's mother struggled to support them, not being able to put her children through school or afford access to water and electricity.
Eventually, with support from some kind neighbours, her mother established a vocational training centre where girls learned to do embroidery. Fareeda and her sister helped out at this centre and their brother worked at a garage. They kept at it for three years until their financial situation stabilised, but the children were still out of school.
One of her neighbour's was a teacher at a Zindagi Trust school for working children. When she found out that Fareeda was interested in school, she helped her get admitted to a Paid to Learn school for working children. From the very beginning, Fareeda was a great student and continued to do well from kindergarten to the 5th grade. As a successful graduate, she qualified for Zindagi Trust's secondary school placement programme and was admitted into a mainstream private school. She passed with flying colours in her 9th-grade board exams and is now in her final year of Pakistani school, waiting to sit for the 10th-grade board exams.
Fareeda's teachers report that she is an exceptional student who has the ability to grasp whatever is taught in class. Keeping a positive outlook on life, she considers the hardships and struggles of her early childhood as the foundation of her journey of learning. Most importantly, she has made her family proud.
Fareeda is passionate about becoming a writer and also a teacher so that she can share her knowledge with others in what she considers to be true service to the country. Please support our program to ensure that outstanding graduates of our non-formal primary education programme like Fareeda continue to get placed in good schools that promise them a brighter future.
My name is Haseena. Seven years ago, my father got a job in a factory in Karachi and my family moved to the big city from a remote part of the Sindh province. A year later, I enrolled in the Zindagi Trust Primary School as a kindergarten student. Primary school was a wonderful experience that I will never forget thanks to the love, care and support I got from my teachers. They always encouraged me to look forward, aim for a brighter future and made me grow into a confident girl for which I am grateful.
This year I will sit for my 9th grade board exams. Secondary school is tough and a completely new environment for me, but I have worked harder and managed to get a distinction in all major subjects. I have been a class prefect every year, which is also a matter of honour for me.
Growing up, when I saw my father working on daily wages, struggling to support us, I promised myself to support him like a son when I grew up. I started by helping my mother stitch clothes for a living. I have now also joined a coaching center near my house where I teach students of Grades 3 to 8 to supplement our household income. After finishing high school, I want to go to college to continue my education and go on to get a job in a bank.
Most of the families from our village in rural Sindh have moved to our part of Karachi, an urban slum. I feel that it time for me to pay back to my roots. I plan to share my knowledge with the children in my community. I have full faith in myself that I will be successful in whatever I do. I am grateful to Zindagi Trust for making it possible for me to dream big and achieve my dreams!
Haseena is a graduate of our Paid to Learn schools for working children. As a top graduate, she was placed in a mainstream private secondary school through our Secondary School Support Project. She has made tremendous progress in settling into a private school environment from a non-formal education set-up. We are proud of her and of all our graduates who are showing brilliant results in secondary school. Please continue to support our programmes to make this change possible.
Our first batch of graduates is now just a year away from Matriculation! They have just taken their Class 9 Board Exams and reached Class 10. This month we bring to you the stories of Khanzaib and Sana - two promising Zindagi Trust graduates now studying at Al- Shams Grammar School in Karachi.
Khanzaib attends school from 8 to 1 pm and works till late at night in a garment shop to support his family and make ends meet. He studies in the Science section of Class 10 and is a top position holder in his class. He aspires to be an engineer.
He started his journey of education by joining one of Zindagi Trust’s primary schools for working children and deeply appreciates the trust for their support in convincing his parents and employers to allow him to attend school. Today his family is proud of his excellent academic performance continuing into secondary school as well.
Sana is another one of our stars who graduated from our non-formal school for working children and is now studying a private school with Khanzaib. Her academic record remains excellent and she is a top position holder even after her competition has changed to students of a mainstream private school. Her favorite subject is biology and she aspires to be a doctor.
She was excited to report that she has opened a coaching center in her house where she tutors primary school students to support her family. A young student herself, she is proud of her students’ good academic results – a feat for which she has earned the respect of neighbouring families.
We are proud of our graduates who had barely two years of informal education under their belts, but shone among children who have studied in private schools all their life. A big thank you to donors, supporters and volunteers for making this work possible.
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