Khadija Aslam (17 years old), who lives in Seetal Mari near Vehari Chowk, Multan, is a proud student of Girls Inspire. She runs her own beauty salon at this very young age. Having a vibrant and optimistic personality Khadija is full of life. But the achievements she made in her life have not been easy. There was a time when Khadija was not so bold and confident and did not have a say in any of her family matters.
Khadija hails from a poor family residing in a marginalized community of Multan. She lost her father at a very young age and did not have support from anyone. She has four siblings and is the eldest among them. After the death of her father, she quit her studies due to the financial constraints and lack of assistance from any of her family members. Due to stern culture of the community, women were not allowed to go out and the elders of the family did not involve women in any social activity or decision making.
Fortunately, Khadija heard about SPARC’s vocational training center in her neighborhood. She got inspired by the idea of getting enrolled in the training course for free and getting an opportunity of learning a skill that can help her earn an income and improve the lives of her family. Khadija also realized that joining the training was practical and convenient as the center was located within her community and she had easy access to it. Because of the growing realization of the need to raise her family’s standard of living and a secure a healthy future for them all she stepped up.
After convincing her mother of the idea, Khadjia got herself enrolled in the center for the beautician’s course with her mother’s consent. Due to her keen interest and dedication, she completed her training with flying colours. Other than skill training, she and her other batch mates were also given life skills-based trainings that helped them all to be hopeful about the opportunities coming their way and have confidence in themselves. They were given guidance and tips on how to sell their products in the market. Khadija also attended some capacity building sessions in the center which helped her learn about the institutes which could provide her a loan or financing for her business startup. She had always wanted to be an entrepreneur and establish a beauty salon which she could run by herself.
While at the centre, Khadija not only learned a skill, but she also worked on improving herself, which could be easily observed in her personality. She improved her ability of communication with others. Being efficient and an enthusiast, Khadija had a good interaction with other women of the community whom she not only inspired but also encouraged to be self-supporting. Because of her determination and hard work, she not only got an internship opportunity in advanced beautician course through TEVTA (Technical Education and Vocational Training Authority), but also finance for gradually establishing her business.
At present, Khadija has a small set up of her own beauty salon where she has got a good number of clients visiting her. She is supporting her family and is trying hard to bring difference in the lives of her siblings.
Khadija said, “Getting enrolled in the center has been one of the major turning points in my life. If it hadn’t been for the skills training, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Who knows I might have gotten married by now? SPARC and Girls Inspire played a great role in changing my life in the best way possible. Running my own beauty salon has always been my dream, and today living this life is a milestone achieved. I hope they keep influencing other girls’ lives by providing them with great opportunities and empowering them to contribute towards progress of the nation.”