Abdul is a 12 year old boy with a toothy grin, a dark complexion and matted black hair. I first met Abdul when he came to pick up his mother and sister who were employed as maids at a private residence in Karachi. They cleaned as many as 6-7 houses daily for as little as $5.00 per month.
The living conditions for families like Abdul is classified as extreme poverty. A 2015 World Development Indicator reports found that over 50 percent of Pakistan’s population is living below the poverty line. Further it showed that 31.6 percent of children under the age of five are suffering from malnutrition and are underweight.
Abdul’s family lives in Azam Basti a strip of a hidden city nestled between two very prominent well-to do residential areas of Karachi, Pakistan. He is the youngest and his older sister, Shaista is a bright and sophisticated fifteen year old. The family is managing for now – today they have food to eat.
Their mother, Sado is a single mother raising two kids in one of the most dangerous cities in the world. She also is fighting her own health issues, two years ago she was diagnosed with Hepatitis B. Despite that Sado manages to find the strength to clean houses so she can provide shelter and food for her kids additionally she said that it is her wish that both of her children are able to get an education. To date she has not been able to make that dream come true.
Pakistan has one of the lowest literacy rates in the world, according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
Both Abdul and Shaista don’t have the luxury of attending school. They both are working to help make ends meet. Shaista cleans houses with her mother and Abdul is working as an assistant with a plumber.
“I hope that one day I am able to provide for my mom like she has provided for me” said Abdul
Abdul and Shaista are not unique in regards to working for wages. Pakistan has the world’s third largest children workforce, according to a 2014 report by the International Labour Organization (ILO).
If given the opportunity, Shaista said that she would love to go to school, she hasn’t given up hope and she went on to say that in the future she hopes to work for the Pakistani Army so that she may be able to serve her country.
Abdul hopes that he will be a good plumber, he said that he lost his finger in his previous job as an assistant to a butcher. He mentioned that his regret was not so much the accident but instead the financial burden the family feltnwhen he lost that job.
“It saddened me to see my mom and sister so worried, and then taking loans from others to help pay for my medical expenses. I hope that one day I am able to provide for my mom like she has provided for me” said Abdul.
This is just a snap shot of Abdul and his family – unfortunately Abdul’s story is representative of the poverty that is rampant in Pakistan. Please help empower children and families by supporting the work of the PEARL Foundation.
Donate now to help kids like Abdul find their way to a school instead of hoping to be a good plumber to help their family survive poverty – DONATE
Story written by Saman Quraeshi