In a little village in Pakistan, eleven years old Ameera lived with her mother in a house made of weaved branches. Her dad died when she was only 2 months old. Instead of going to school, she worked in a sweatshop where she made expensive hand-knotted rugs with her little fingers for a mere five dollars per week.
Ameera would wake up at six in the morning to water her garden, eat breakfast, and put on the old worn out shirt and ripped skirt she wore every day. While walking to ‘work’ Ameera would always see kids laughing and playing amongst each other while walking to school. She believed that education was very important but she needed the money she worked for. She hoped that there was some way she could go to school and still work.
So, one morning before heading out, Ameera decided to talk to her mom. “Mom,” she said, “is there any way that I can go to school?” A weary smile spread across her mother’s face. “Ameera, I know you want to go to school and get a good education but we need the money, sweetheart. We barely have enough to survive in this village.” Ameera sadly looked down with tears filling her eyes and said “I understand mommy” and walked through the door. Actually, their home had no doors, instead they used a curtain.
In the sweatshop it was very hot and there was no air conditioning. The place wasn’t very clean either. There was dust everywhere and different materials spread across the floor with a foul odour . Not to mention how broken down this place was with a leaky roof when it rained. The paint on the walls were peeling off in many random places. Ameera sighed as she got her task for the day and walked to her work station for the next 8 and sometimes 12 grueling hours. She was only eleven, barely five feet tall, about 65 pounds, long, straight, black hair with a medium complexion. There were many other children, some older and some younger, working as well. One of the reasons Ameera work here was because of her fast and small hands which work best for hand-knotted rugs.
Always tired from a long day’s work, she would get home late in the evening and for lunch all she had was steamed rice with vegetables and lentils. Ameera’s mom planted in their backyard. Little Ameera would make one rug in a week and would come home with cuts and blisters on her callused fingers.
Every night as she is walking home she would pass by the school and see the art hung on the windows and wished she could go to school, and maybe get her art hung on the window. Once Ameera got home, she saw her mom sitting at the kitchen table. “Ameera I have great news!” she smiled. “What is it mom?” she asked excitedly with her eyes wide opened. “Well, you know how you want to go to school? I made an agreement for you can go to school but you would still need to work. You’ll start school tomorrow,” she said holding back her tears. “Really mommy?” Ameera said hugging her tightly. “Thank you,” she said excitedly and ran to her grass-made bed and fell asleep knowing something exciting was going to happen in the morning.
Next morning, Ameera woke up and put on a white shirt and navy blue skirt that was given to her by a family in the village. Her skirts were a little too long and her shirt was quite baggy on thin body. Ameera walked alone to school but didn’t mind because she was excited and waited for this moment. When she found her classroom, she walked in with a big smile on her face, hung up her bag on a hook and sat at an empty desk on a hard wooden chair with wobbly legs. Throughout the day, Ameera kept hearing people snickering and looking at her but she decided to let it be. Occasionally, she would hear her name but, she just thought she was hearing things. Aside from that, Ameera was slowly picking up on the lessons, and was doing the work without help from her teacher, Miss Roshni.
After school, although Ameera was tired, she had to head to the sweatshop. She was kind of stressed considering she still had homework, so while she was walking, she was doing her homework. Luckily she finished before she reached. The time was 3:50 pm now and she still had a long time before work would be over. Once she entered the building and got her task, Ameera started working. When it was time to go home, Ameera was tired but she figured she would get used to the routine later on. Days went by and Ameera was still drowsy at both school and work.
Then, one rainy day at school, as Ameera tiredly walked in the class and sat down, kids snickering still continued but today was different. When the bell rang for recess these girls came up to Ameera and starting teasing and making fun of her clothes. They said mean remarks like how her clothes are old, have stains and about how poor she was. The reason these remarks hurt so much is because they were all true. Ameera went to work feeling sad and insecure. She didn’t feel like going to school the next day but she still had to work. While working she thought about wanting a good education but not wanting to be bullied or drowsy because of work afterwards.
Weeks passed by and Ameera was tired going to school and coming home from work. She had bags under her eyes and she was still being bullied. All until one day, she went home and saw her mom with two other people. A women and man which seemed to be a couple. When her mom turned to see her, she could tell Ameera had a confused look on her face. “Ameera,” she said with a smile but sounding sad, “I know that this whole schedule is making you very tired and I know how much going to school means to you. I decided you needed to be with a family that can provide you with everything you need.” Ameera was confused and scared not knowing how this situation was going to end. “So, I found a family that could provide for you, unlike me, and will take good care of you. This is Mr. And Mrs. Jones from America. They will be adopting you,” her mom finished with tears in her eyes. The word adopted hit Ameera like a truck. Tears filled her eyes. She ran and gave her mom a hug. “Mom.” she whispered, her voice shaky. As they pulled away she looked at her new family. They looked nice but looking at her mom, she was filled with sorrow. She didn’t want to leave her mother.
I promise I will come back for you mommy,” Ameera promised, “I will visit you anytime I can.” Ameera had nothing to pack but took her old baby blanket and gave her mom one final hug and kiss before she left with her new parents. “I love you Ameera.” she said crying uncontrollable. “I love you too mommy” Ameera said as tears were streaming down her face knowing her mom wants the best for her. She ran back and gave her mom one more hug. Then she walked out of the door holding her new mom’s hand.
Ameera visited her mom every school break as promised and would keep her company for as long as she could before she had to leave, knowing her mom would be left all alone. Then one year, she returned to Pakistan to visit her mom as Dr. Ameera Ansari.