Amna is a 9th-grade student at City Cambridge Grammar School in the Korangi Industrial Area of Karachi. She just finished her school exams at the top of her class and is about to sit for her final board exams. If you had predicted her future to her five years ago, she would have asked you if you had mistaken her for someone else. Five years ago, she was not in school and would spend her days working in a sewing centre to contribute to the meagre household income. Her father worked in a textile factory and her mother was a local midwife - their combined earnings were not enough to support their growing family of five.
She was recruited by Zindagi Trust to join their Paid to Learn school for working children, where she, along with other working children from the slums of Korangi, would finish primary school in an accelerated two-year course and also earn a cash scholarship to help cushion against the opportunity cost of missing work. When she first started school, she struggled with a painful lack of confidence, perhaps because she entered a classroom for the first time at a ripe age. She credits her teachers at the school with helping develop her self-confidence during those years, a memory that brings tears to her eyes.
She finished the primary course at the top of her class and was selected as one of the graduates whose secondary education would be sponsored by the trust. Our staff got her placed into a good private school not far from her home and guided her through the transition to the private grammar school. Amna maintained an impressive academic performance throughout, getting a top 3 position every year from sixth-grade through ninth-grade today.
Not forgetting her struggle when starting school, Amna has made it her mission to educate and empower the girls in her community through confidence-boosting and career guidance. She works with a team of six friends from schools to help develop self-confidence in girls like herself by sharing the stories of her own battles.
Amna wants to grow up to be a doctor. Her favourite subject at school is biology and she says she loves studying how the human body functions. She also works as a first-aid trainer after school in her community along with some friends. She believes that education and first-aid training changed her life and wants to help other girls from her community get the same opportunity to evolve and transform into well-informed, educated women.
Amna appreciates the local presence of Zindagi Trust in her area and points it out as a factor that encouraged her family and community to send their children to school. On behalf of Amna and all our students enrolled in the Paid to Learn programs, we would like to thank our donors for enabling the education of so many bright young students in urban slums across Pakistan.
We fed a daily breakfast to more than 250 kindergarten students at SMB Fatima Jinnah Government Girls School in Karachi. The menu remained the same as the last quarter, featuring a tall glass of milk along with one of the following: fruit salad, potato cutlets, French toast, bread with jam and butter, eggs, sandwiches, wheat porridge, pancakes, sweet porridge, chick peas, and boiled potatoes.
Dr Seema Hassan (MD, MPH, CPH), a doctor specializing in public health and nutrition evaluated our menu to review the nutritional value of the food offered to the students. She has proposed certain changes, such as introducing wheat porridge and using homemade jams instead of store-bought ones loaded with preservatives. She also urged us to check the ingredients list of all packaged items such as oil, spices and butter to prevent the use of unwanted additives and guard against contamination. Earlier, our management urged upon the school to avoid refined floor products such as biscuits and sugary cereals. These changes will be incorporated at the onset of the new academic year starting April.
The Sindh province is plagued with malnourishment and stunting, which is one of the reasons for our introducing the breakfast program at a public school. To determine the impact of the breakfast as well as of the changes in the menu, we measured the baseline weight and height of the students in August. A follow-up was taken this month and the endline weight and height record has shown a considerable improvement in the health and growth of our youngest students.
The class teachers and the section incharge get regular feedback from the parents of the kindergarten students, as they come to school to pick up their children every day. In general, the parents have given a great positive response to the new breakfast items being served at school and have noticed an improvement in the overall eating habits of their children. They are thankful to donors like you who make this breakfast program possible!
Muskan is a 12-year-old girl working in an emboridery shop where she earns $12 a month to support her father, who makes $120 as a labourer. She is studying at Zindagi Trust's Walton Road School in Lahore. The school is part of the Paid to Learn non-formal education program which brings working children from urban slums up to speed with primary education.
On her very first day at our school, Muskan realized that there were just as many girls as boys in every class, an observation which would go on to shape her career goals. Speaking to her teacher here about wanting to become a lawyer, she says education is the right of every child but in our society boys get preference over girls.
"On my father's side of the family, I see this discrimination. The boys get to go to school and the girls are given the responsiblity of taking care of their home and their siblings."
She convinced her paternal aunts and uncles to send all their children to school and thanks to her persistence and passion, four of her girl cousins are now studying in the same school as she is. We are so delighted to have this bright young education activist among us and hope you will continue to support our cause and help us educate more working children across Pakistan.
Muskan is a keen student, always regular and always on time. Her academic performance score so far is 87%, rated as Very Good. After finishing with work and school for the day, she tutors her siblings and cousins every evening. She is also enthusiastic about sports, having recently bagged the 2nd position in the one-legged race and the spoon race at her school's Sports Day. Once a week, she also puts up a dramatic performance at home with her cousins, where she always plays the role of a lawyer.
realizes the need to raise a voice against the injustice happening in our society and also that doing so is only possible if you are aware of your rights. She thanks you for your support in educating children like her and hopes you will encourage your friends to make a donation too!
Speaking with a wisdom not common in children her age, she realises the need to raise a voice against the injustice happening in our society and also that doing so is only possible if you are aware of your rights. She thanks you for your support in educating children like her and hopes you will encourage your friends to make a donation too!