A story in three acts:
I. THE PAST
What did you collect when you were 12?
Cabbage Patch Dolls, Transformers, Beany Babies, Panini stickers?
Faheema collects rubbish.
She should be in school. Instead she spends her days walking the streets, going from bin to bin. She,s looking for paper to use as firewood so she can bake bread for her family. And for plastic bottles she can wash and sell to local shops.
She's dressed in dirty rags and is often violently abused by the street boys. There's no one she can turn to for help though.
II. THE PRESENT
Did you ever meet someone that changed your life?
Here's the part where Faheema's story changes. Up until now, life has dealt her a rotten hand. But one day she is handed a lifeline by one of our outreach workers who finds her and takes her to our drop-in-centre. It's a warm, safe haven from the dangers of life on the streets.
She comes to the centre regularly and attends the literacy and numeracy classes. She also uses the children's club where she can play with toys and, and for a few hours a week, enjoy the simple pleasures of childhood.
Our Family Outreach team are working with Faheema's parents and are helping them find ways of improving their financial situation so they don't need to send Faheema back onto the streets.
III. THE FUTURE
What did you want to be when you were 13?
Doctor, astronaut, teacher, fireman?
Faheema's future is in the balance. We hope that one day she'll go back to mainstream school and get a proper education. But this is a War Child story not a Walt Disney one — and ours don't always end happily ever after.
Maybe she will go on to become a teacher. And despite our best efforts, maybe her family will fall back into the clutches of poverty and she'll end up as a 13 year old rubbish collector.