Ayesha returns to school after four years
11 year old Ayesha lives in village Klasnwala of district Lodhran, Punjab. Her village is almost 22 km away from the main city. Her family consists of six people, including two brothers and two sisters. Ayesha’s father works at a private hospital in Lodhran. He has two wives and lives with Ayesha’s stepmother in the city. Ayesha and her family hardly receive any emotional or financial support from her father.
Ayesha was enrolled in primary school but she had to drop out only after a year due to her mother’s financial difficulties, the distance to school and restrictions from her grandfather. She enrolled into the local mosque to get Islamic education but she left that too at the age of seven. She helped her mother with household work for three years. Her younger sister Mariam, now nine years old, wasn’t enrolled in school either. The girls’ mother wanted to send them to school but she couldn’t afford the fees. Moreover, there was no government school for girls in their village and they couldn’t travel four km to reach school. Thus, she was unable to convince her father-in-law to let her daughter enrol in school.
In June, 2016, Save the Children’s project titled “Improving the Lives of Children” (ILC) started an Accelerated Learning Centre (ALC) in the village and distributed free books and other materials among out-of-school and working children. The project staff also introduced broad based community meetings to identify out-of-school and working children, followed by meetings with their parents. They also met with Ayesha’s mother and grandfather. At first, her grandfather was sceptical because of financial issues along with other social issues in the village but after understanding how the ALC works and seeing Ayesha’s eagerness, he allowed her to enrol in the ALC.
“I wanted to send my daughters to school but my husband didn’t take any interest in the family and my financial situation didn’t allow me to enrol them in a school situated far away. I am thankful to the ILC project for opening the ALC in our neighbourhood,” said Ayesha’s mother.
At last in September 2017, Ayesha was enrolled in class two and could finally resume her studies after four years. Her sister Mariam was also enrolled in the ALC in class one.
Ayesha lost four precious years of education but she is very happy to go to school again. Now, she helps her mother with daily household work in the mornings and goes to the ALC in the evening, where she plays with her friends and learns new things in class. She also loves to be a part of different activities in her class.
“Once my mother took me to hospital when I was ill. I saw a lady doctor wearing a white coat and holding a stethoscope in her hand. I was impressed by her and I thought to myself that I want to be a doctor in the future. As my parents didn’t enrol me in school, I stopped thinking about becoming a doctor but after enrolling in the ALC, I hope that after completing my education, I can join this profession. I am so happy now,” Ayesha adds with a hopeful smile.