“My father works as a cobbler near the Secretariat. We are eight siblings. I started selling toys in Sitara Market when I was seven to support my family. I have three elder brothers, one of them studies in a madressah while the other two also sell various items in Islamabad. When I started work, I told my father that I wanted to continue with my education as well, and he agreed. I study in the fourth grade at a government school, and after school I go for my tuition and then sell toys later in the evening. I earn Rs200-Rs300 per day, and I bear my school and tuition expenses myself. I give some money to my father as well as he has to support two houses - one in the village in Bajaur where my mother, a brother and sister live.
My brothers and I live with our father who has rented a single room for Rs3,500. One of my sisters also lives in a madressah in Islamabad.
We do not own a house in our village which is why my father came to Islamabad 28 years ago, with the hope of a better future. He has been a cobbler ever since.
I feel happy when I think that I am not a burden on my family, and that in fact I am playing a small role in helping my father who has seen nothing but struggle.”
Published in Dawn, August 26th, 2017