Saima Sarwar had dressed up as a clown and was going about streets in Lahore hawking artefacts. The hard working woman, who was once aspiring to be a doctor, had to give up her dreams and do odd jobs after her father and brother passed away when she was in class 13. And she had the additional responsibility of looking after her ailing mother.
But a girl going around in a clown’s costumes is somewhat of an oddity in Pakistani society and it piqued the interest of a news channel journalist. She tearfully narrated her life story of ordeal and penury to the TV channel prompting a series of tweets posts and comments on social media.
Several influencers and philanthropists reached out to her, thereafter, with offers of help. She was flooded with phone calls from complete strangers who were willing to do whatever they can to help her to tide over her current situation.
لاہور کی رہائشی صائمہ ميڈيکل کی طالبہ بے روزگاری کے باعث جوکر کا روپ دھار کر کھلونے بيچنے پر مجبور ہوگئی ہے۔ صائمہ کے والد کا انتقال ہوچکا ہے اس ليے تمام گھر کی ذمہ داری اب اُس کے کاندھوں پر آچکی ہے۔۔ #SamaaTV pic.twitter.com/dlWpXCd0cH— SAMAA TV (@SAMAATV) August 27, 2021
“I’m so grateful,” she told Khaleej Times emotionally. “Allah has blessed me. My faith is so much stronger now. All of this is be- cause Allah has been kind. I have received so many calls from people who want to help. So many channels have come to interview me too. But it is because people are kind and they want to help.”
“I want to move ahead in life after working hard and achieving top po-sitions in education,” Saima said. “I want to complete my studies.”
The Punjab provincial government, which too was moved by her story, ordered constitution of a special medical board to study the health condition of Saima’s mother, Naseem Akhtar. It is also tasked with estimating the cost of her treatment. In video interviews given to various channels, Saima narrated how she was often harassed on the streets and she had to quit her previous jobs due to sexual harassment at the workplace where her bosses would be propositioning to her inappropriately.“I would rather stay hungry than compromise on my values,” she said tearfully in a video going viral on SnackVideo, another byte-sized video sharing platform.
A Punjab government representative confirmed to Khaleej Times a medical board will be looking into her mother’s treatment. But there has been no decision yet about bearing her educational cost, he added.