“My father promised me a computer if I do well. Inshallah, I will not let him down.”
Twelve-year-old Altamash is a growing boy, and his skinny arms seem too long for his dusty tunic. He sits under a shady tree at the DIL Data Nagar Campus in Karachi on a day when exams are on and students have left for the day. His family lives around the corner from the school, in a derelict neighborhood of Orangi, Asia’s largest slum and home to 1.5 million people.
Altamash shares the small dwelling with his parents and eight siblings. Food is hard to come by, and they do not have access to electricity or water. Even so, Altamash carries an air of contentment, and school is a big part of the reason. Altamash enjoys school and enjoys social studies and Urdu. In his free time, he likes to read English stories.
“My father bought a battery-powered lamp which I use to read at night.”
Altamash’s father is an electrician who understands the value of education. Altamash and his three younger siblings are enrolled in the school.
“I used to go to another school where my parents had to pay high fees. The teachers never showed up and I did not learn anything. We heard of the DIL school, and my sisters and I switched over. Although I am 12, I started in Class 1 since I had so much to catch up on.”
Being over-aged has not deterred Altmash. He is confident and sure of himself.
“I have lots of friends here. My teachers are so loving and kind, and they come to school everyday to teach us.” Looking around, he adds, “I like that the school has plants and a place for us to play.”
“I want to be a doctor—actually, that’s what my father wants of me. My brothers all work embroidering clothes. My father says since I am the one he is investing in, the future of my family rests on my shoulders.”
Altamash is very interested in technology. He often spends time at a friend’s home where the family has a computer.
“My father promised me a computer if I do well. Inshallah, I will not let him down,” Altamash says, his lips turning up for a shy smile.
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