Salma, a 10 year old girl, is studying in class four at DIL-NOWA School in Village Janwary Goth, Khairpur. Salma works in three homes—one early in the morning and two in the evening after attending school. During cotton-picking season she works in the field and also does minor labor on the land. The money she raises helps pay for the educational expenses of her younger brother, and the remainder is used for other household expenses.
Four years ago, whenever Salma would pass the school on her way to work, she would look longingly at the girls studying inside. She asked her mother several times if she could get admission but her mother would refuse, reminding her how much her father was against female education.
One day the teacher saw Salma peering at the girls. The teacher went up to her and asked her to enroll. After she explained her predicament, it was decided that Salma would attend school and keep it a secret from the parents, and any expenses would be borne by the teacher.
Salma had successfully passed three classes when her mother finally found out that she was attending school; it was her father’s reaction that surprised her the most. Instead of forbidding her to attend school, he permitted her to carry on with her studies on the condition that she would continue her labor work. He even admitted that he was wrong and was proud of his child’s courage and tenacity.
When the DIL team visited the Sojhro Junior School Mohammad at village Sagyoon earlier this year, one bright-eyed young girl stood out from the crowd. She would raise her hand enthusiastically each time we asked the class to solve a math problem or spell an English word.