Coping with poverty and marginalisation has been a way of life for residents in the remote town of Bagan Baba, in Jaffarabad district, Balochistan province. For seven-year-old Shama, a resident of Bagan Baba, she spent most of her days helping her family with household chores.
With a multi-dimensional poverty headcount of 75 percent in the Jaffarabad district of Balochistan province, Shama is amongst the fortunate few young girls who are supported by their families to attain a formal education.
For as long as she could remember, Shama and her family had led simple lives with just enough earnings to support their everyday expenses. Her family had lost many of their belongings in the 2010-11 floods. She often heard tales of the devastation caused by the floods from her parents and teachers. However, the only life she had ever known was the one where the floods had already destroyed the necessary infrastructure across the Balochistan province. These floods had especially damaged the educational infrastructure in the region bringing it close to the point of no return. The school she attended was also destroyed, leaving the walls cracked. The school management barely had enough funds to keep the building running — they could not afford to provide furniture or any other teaching material for the classrooms.
Shama along with most of the other children from her school had to sit outside on rags — making it difficult for them to write and concentrate on their lessons. It was especially tricky during extreme weather conditions when the children had to sit on the ground during hot summers and harsh winters.
"Our school had no chairs, so our only option was to sit outside on the field during school hours. Each morning my mother washed my clothes to remove dirt from them but to no avail because the very next morning my clothes had mud all over them again," said Shama.
In February 2018, Shama’s school was amongst the 375 schools in three districts of Balochistan that received additional assistance. Government Girls Middle School in Bagan Baba was provided furniture and educational kits including chairs and tables, blackboards, cupboards, and school bags under the China South-South Cooperation Assistance Fund for the Recovery Project in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Balochistan.
This assistance made a drastic improvement in enhancing the state of the schools.
Under the South-South agreement, the People’s Republic of China has provided US$4 million to support education in Pakistan’s Balochistan province and provide assistance to vulnerable families in FATA. This funding helped refurbish schools that were damaged by severe flooding in Balochistan during 2010–2011 and benefited 19,000 school children.
The assistance has significantly reduced the challenges Shama and her schoolmates had to face every day. “With new armchairs, we will be more comfortable and will be able to build a better future for ourselves,” said Shama happily. “We are grateful to the People’s Republic of China for this assistance.”