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Naheed’s Journey Back to Umeed

Naheed, now ten years old, was indirectly responsible for the opening of Umeed Education and Welfare on August 12th, 2016. On August 11th, I got out of my car when a three-year-old girl named Naheed ran up to me, greeted me, and expressed her desire to see a school and how it looked, having been denied admission at a nearby school due to financial constraints.

She was already studying at our Center No. 1. One day, she fell and broke her arm, requiring admission to the JNMC emergency department. The doctors and staff were surprised to see a large number of elite men and women visiting her with flowers and gifts, unaware that this young girl was a celebrity within the Umeed Education organization.

Naheed lived next to my house in a makeshift hut. Unfortunately, the land where she lived was sold for pembangunan apartments, forcing her family to move to a different location. As a result, she stopped coming to our center and the school we had enrolled her in.

During the Covid-19 crisis, she disappeared. Her parents, with eight girls and two boys, employ their children in homes for menial jobs or childcare for wealthy families. I later learned they had sent Naheed to Lucknow to care for the baby of an elite family.

Somehow, I managed to locate the family and called them. After explaining my concern for Naheed, I requested they send her back. They refused. Faced with this refusal, I threatened to file an FIR against them and inform the Chief Minister about their employment of a minor. This threat proved effective, and Naheed was returned.

Sadly, she disappeared again, this time employed by another family to care for a baby, wash dishes, and sweep floors. We were deeply disappointed and helpless.

Just two days ago, our team went to Center No. 2, five kilometers from my house, to distribute bags. It was there that my driver spotted Naheed and sent me pictures. We were overjoyed to have our little girl, now ten years old, back with us.

Today, we visited the center with the team. Dr. Mansoor gifted her a mobile phone so she can stay in touch with us. The supervisor and inspectors have been instructed to find a nearby school, enroll her, and look after her school fees and other needs on behalf of Umeed.

While I am now in my advanced years and may not live to see her full educational progress, I have faith that my son and family will continue to care for her inshallah.

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