To collect fresh water every morning, 13-year-old Marium treks for one hour down the steep hills of Chamankotli, a village located in Azad Kashmir. Once she is back, she cuts wood for fire, prepares food, and cleans her home. While doing all this, she also attends to her mother’s needs, who is confined to a charpoy due to paralysis. With no access to electricity, gas and fresh water, every chore is arduous and there’s no time to rest.
“The coronavirus crisis turned Marium’s life upside down,” shared Ms. Sania Javed, principal at the TCF school where Marium is a student. “When the lockdown was enforced, her father lost his daily earnings as a labourer, and her mother suffered from a paralysis attack. During this time, a marriage proposal came in for Marium’s elder sister, who was only 15 at the time. The family accepted it and when her sister left suddenly, all the responsibilities landed onto Marium’s shoulders.”
When schools reopened in September, Marium’s father could not afford to send her back. Ms. Sania spent hours counselling the parents to let their daughter continue her education. It was only when she offered her flexibility in schools hours did they finally agree. For the first time in over 6 months, Marium returned back to her classroom.
When she is in school, away from all the worries and responsibilities, Marium sees a world full of possibilities. She dreams of becoming a teacher so she can support her family.
The coronavirus crisis has left thousands of vulnerable girls at the risk of early marriages and school dropouts. We are working hard to make sure that girls return safely to their classrooms. On International Day of the Girl Child, join us in supporting every girl’s right to learn and help us in protecting their dreams.