World Vision Pakistan and partner organisations offer awareness trainings focused on improving the lives of children who face harsh conditions and abuse at home and at school. As a result, Ayesha, a young Pakistani girl, finally has the opportunity to show her potential and reclaim her childhood.
When asked about her responsibilities at home, Ayesha smiles. She says, “From my early childhood, I used to bring firewood from the nearby forest, prepare feed for cattle, clean house and [do] other work,” including caring for her younger siblings. For many years her daily routine has been long and tiresome and she hasn't had anyone to think about her health or future. Before going to sleep at the end of the day she needed to first complete all of her tasks, which left her with no time to live her own life.
Most girls Ayesha's age love to go out with friends or engage in game-playing and taking an active part in school activities, but Ayesha had to complete her assigned duties before and after school. In school she was not participating actively which resulted in physical punishment from teachers. She says, “I failed to complete my school assignments and was weak in my studies and as a result of this I was beaten.”
The treatment of Ayesha by her parents and teachers was harsh and unsympathetic. They failed to consider her needs as a child and a human being, and this lack of understanding led to verbal abuse and unrealistic pressure. Over time, unable to defend herself, Ayesha grew unemotional and passive.
At the same time that Ayesha was suffering through her daily routine, World Vision Pakistan was helping a woman-led Community Based Organisation (CBO) committee arrange some consultation workshops, as part of the Protected Children-Progressive Future (PCPF) project, in the same village where Ayesha and her family reside. The three-year PCPF project, funded by World Vision Australia, provides services for roughly 59,835 individuals in 15 villages, particularly women and children.
During the consultation workshop, community women participated in trainings on the rights of children. Some of these women shared Ayesha's difficult story with World Vision team members, who organised support for the all-woman CBO who had decided to approach Ayesha’s mother and school administration.
Following a number of counselling and consultation sessions with CBO members, Ayesha's family and teachers began to recognise their unfair behaviour and poor treatment of Ayesha. Not only did they see how harmful their actions were, but they also took positive steps to make changes. Ayesha’s mother stopped delegating tasks to her daughter and advised her instead to focus on studies.
Now Ayesha is active in school where she not only gets good marks on her final examinations but has risen to a higher position in her class than most of her fellow students. She says, “I feel happy that I am getting good marks on my exams and also on every assignment. Now I get appreciation instead of physical punishment from my teachers.”
Through the efforts of CBOs to increase awareness, community members are able to more easily access the services of humanitarian organisations and, through media, raise abuse and rights issues, resulting in a more vibrant civil society. These kinds of actions have had an impact on the governmental level as well, drawing more attention to cases such as Ayesha's, where children's rights are being violated.
Ayesha's mother has also had much to learn through this process. She says, “Whatever I did with my daughter it was only because of ignorance and lack of understanding. Now I have realised that her health and education are more important than anything else.”