Today I would like to introduce you to two siblings, Nagma and Arbaaz, eleven and nine years old. They come from a very big family – and their father buys and sells trash for a living.
Yes, that’s right. This man is trying to feed, clothe and educate his eight children by driving around with a rickshaw through different neighbourhoods, shouting for people to bring him their garbage and then reselling it. His wife supports the household cash by making cheap anklets, having her daughters help her at times. Additionally, their eldest girls sew clothes from time to time, taking a small fee from neighbours and acquaintances.
This has brought them through the years and they were able to marry their eldest daughter. Their eldest son is married as well, his wife and two children living in the home, too. This thus makes 12 people living in the small house which has two rooms downstairs, two rooms upstairs and a small hall which serves as a kitchen and living room in one.
The family is happy that they inherited the house – as it saves them the cost of renting one for the whole family! They have enough expenses as it is, with food, clothing and the rent for the father’s rickshaw.
They managed however to give their eldest five children a basic education, even if it was very low quality. That’s how their sixth child goes to another charity school for girls and Nagma and Arbaaz are now at our school.
It is one of these stories that are told with a few words but which reach much deeper when you think about the situation they are living in. All these people in the dark, small home, which in monsoon time gets wet in most rooms as well. It makes you think when someone walks by, pulling a rickshaw and shouting ‘Give me your garbage!’ How do you think they live?