Salma Ashiq had been begging on the streets for two years. Deprived of education, she had understood at an early age that this was not the future that she wanted. Belonging to a family which practices beggary, she revolted the day a team of social mobilizers came to her house to convince the father to let her study. There was immense pressure from the community surrounding the ALC; it was demonized by people who believed that their income would be affected if their children would study rather than earn money on the street through begging – a deep rooted mindset which seemed impossible to change until social mobilizers from Save the Children and their implementation partners initiated the dialogue.
Through numerous meetings with community members, elders, and families, slowly and gradually, the team was able to convince a few families to send their girls to the ALC under the supervision of the learning facilitators.
“I did not want her to study, we would starve otherwise, how do we afford food? These were the thoughts that crossed my mind, so I said I would send her to study for a few months, if she can write my name on a piece of paper after that, I will allow her to continue her studies” , said Ashiq Ali, father of Salma.
Salma took it upon herself to make sure she breaks the cycle of beggary in her family. Within a short span of time, she wrote the name of her father and family members on a piece of paper, solidifying their trust in what she was doing.
“He drops me to the ALC himself. In fact, in the morning he is the one who teases me and says don’t you have to go school today, why are you sleeping?” she said. With the passage of time, Salma convinced her father to give up beggary as well. Ashiq Ali now works at a motorcycle repair shop in the city where he earns a dignified living.
“It is all her, she is the one who showed me a better way to live through her conviction to study” Ashiq Ali said.
Salma dreams of becoming a doctor one day and says “I will treat everyone in my village for free”. Salma could not contain her excitement at the prospect of teaching other girls like her.