Apart from earning a livelihood for her family, five-year-old Aleema has a dream of her own. She collects money in the form of coins to buy not a doll but a baby goat to play with. “Up until now I have gathered Rs20,” said Aleema, who works as a housemaid at such a young age.
The child’s employer and sponsor Razia said, “I first saw [Aleema] in an empty plot outside my house, putting water in an empty squash bottle that she picked from the trash to make sharbat.” Saddened at the child’s condition, Razia first offered her money which she flatly refused. “Without giving a second thought I asked her if she would like to work at my home in return for a good wage, along with good food, clothes and education.”
After investigating a little about her and her family, Razia kept her at her home in Shah Faisal Colony near Chaklala.
Aleema has four siblings, three brothers and a 13-year-old sister who also works as a housemaid. Her father is a daily wage labourer. The family lives in a small mud house with one room.
Every day at around five in the morning Aleema goes to a madrassa to learn Quran and has also learned languages like Punjabi and Persian. According to Razia, she has changed a lot in the past one year.
“Earlier she did not know that she had to wash her hands before eating or after using the washroom; she used to eat things lying on the floor and she did not know how to comb hair or wear shoes,” she said.
But there’s much still to learn and a lot more saving to do before little Aleema gets her baby goat.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 12th, 2011.