As soon as Zara Bibi began menstruating, her parents withdrew her from school. Zara already had three older sisters, and the same had happened to them, so it wasn’t new to her. However, she had a strong desire to continue her education, so she resisted.
After persisting for months, trying to convince her parents, Zara lost all hope and began assisting her mother and sisters with household chores. That’s when we first encountered her. Our outreach officers found her cutting wheat hay to feed the animals.
She shared with us her strong desire to continue her studies. However, her mother, Rakhshanda, strongly believed that educating girls would lead them to behave shamelessly, make irrelevant demands, and become more liberal and shameless themselves.
It took multiple visits from our team to finally convince Zara’s parents to allow her to resume her education. Rakhshanda had concerns about girls moving freely in public during their menstrual periods. To address this, we explained that we were distributing dignity kits among adolescent girls, providing them with reusable and washable items like pads, underwear, washing powder, and a pouch. This assurance somewhat relieved her concerns, and she allowed Zara to return to school.
Zara has now been assessed and enrolled in our CPB Camp, Cohort 4, Batch 1. Soon, she will resume her studies in grade 5 after passing her baseline assessment at our accelerated learning Chalo-Parho-Barho camp in Ghotki, bringing her to the same level as her classmates. She is now happy and feels encouraged while walking to and from school, even during her menstrual period.
When we met Zara again, she told us that her mother is now the happiest and feels proud when taking Zara to the market, where Zara helps with money handling, or when neighbors come to her place and ask Zara to read bills and letters.