At the age of just seven years old, Nagina is tasked with walking the dusty lanes of Pir Wadhai in Pakistan, trying to sell chaat (a traditional snack) prepared by her mother in order to provide for their family.
She told us:
“I started working because we had no money for medicines and barely enough for food. The boys on the street bully me and curse at me, but I can’t respond to them and defend myself. I feel weak in front of them”.
Nagina, who is one of 10 siblings, could never entertain the thought of going to school. Although her father and mother left Afghanistan in search of a better life, the income provided by Nagina’s father barely made ends meet. Her mother’s diagnosis with Hepatitis C and her sister’s ailing kidney meant that Nagina had no other choice but to give up the chance of an education to help provide for her family.
“When I look at my sick mother and sister, their condition breaks me! I feel helpless! I want to study and become a doctor so that I can treat all who are sick and suffering”.
However, under Islamic Relief’s ‘Protection of Children at Risk’ project, Nagina and her family have a chance at a different life. By placing children like Nagina in schools and also providing their families with skills training, they have an opportunity to break free from the poverty cycle.
Nagina and her elder sister have now been enrolled in a non-formal basic education school in the Pir Wadhai area of Rawalpindi, Punjab, and it is here that she has discovered that she can draw well! She has received a lot of encouragement from her teachers.
Whilst Nagina may live in harsh conditions, her drawing book, that her teachers proudly display, shows a world of happy children playing games like cricket, and flowers in a myriad of hues.
Nagina has learned how to play outdoor games, and once school is over, she stays back to skip and play with her friends. Her teacher also tells stories and rhymes, and Nagina is glad that she is learning how to read and write in Urdu and English.
“Going to school has given me new confidence, I have started standing up to the bullies on the street. I feel like it will all work out in the end, because everything is possible with an education”,
says Nagina with a happy smile.
You can give a child like Nagina a life-changing opportunity like this by getting involved in Charity Week! Running between 26th October to 1st November, grab the chance to complete a virtual challenge or bungee jump to help transform the life an orphan!