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 life possible.