Simran appears enrapt as she curiously stares into her grade 8 science book. The page visible shows an illustration of a small spark of light travelling from the human brain to the spinal cord and finally to a human arm. Today, her class is learning about the nervous system and the wondrous manner in which messages are relayed to and from our brain.
As she reads the Urdu passages that accompany the diagram with contemplation, one can tell Simran is in a mental and physical space that she enjoys. And why wouldn’t she be— science is what will enable her to one day become a doctor, a desire she holds close to her heart: it was her late father’s wish for her.
Fourteen year old Simran is studious and hardworking. Although losing her father was the most difficult thing she and her family had to deal with, Simran is focused in life and determined to succeed. Her mother, a single parent, earns USD 85 a month working as a housekeeper while Simran works at a beauty salon and is able to contribute about USD 7 to the family income. Their total income is just sufficient to provide them the basic necessities in life including an education for Simran’s three younger siblings. Simran counts the advantages of pursuing an education including how it has allowed her to be better at her job, “I can read the English written on products we use at the Salon now and I have become better at handling and talking to customers.”
She graduated from Zindagi Trust’s Paid to Learn Program, a three year non-formal accelerated primary school program. Upon the completion of this program Simran gained admission into Allama Iqbal Public High School through Zindagi Trust’s Secondary Sponsorship Program where students are not only given support for admission into grade 6 at a formal school but also given a full scholarship till Grade 10. Simran is a star student, ranking third in her class last year, and her ambition will settle for nothing less this year too!
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