& Aneesa Agha
Lahore (Bedian Branch)
Nasreen bibi is 32 years old and lives with her father and her two children in Lidher Village, near Bedian. Six years ago, her husband ran away with her younger sister, for which he was murdered by her brothers. After this tragic incidence, Nasreen bibi and her children were kicked out of their home by her in laws. Destitute and alone she arrived at her parent’s home. Her parents built a house next door for Nasreen bibi and her children. Although she had a roof over her head, Nasreen bibi had no source of income and did not want to burden her old parents further, so she started stitching clothes for her neighbors which did not provide her with a stable or sufficient source of income. Then she heard about Kashf from a neighbor and entered the program in hopes of improving her condition. With the first loan she got from Kashf, she bought sweets and other confectioneries to sell from her home. After successfully completing her first loan cycle, she got another bigger loan from Kashf which she used to buy lentils and cooking oil for her business. Nasreen bibi used her third loan to further expand her business by adding cloth and bangles to her merchandize. With her fourth loan, she constructed a small make shift shop along the outer wall of her home. Nasreen bibi used the following loans to inject money into her business and is now in her sixth loan cycle. Nasreen bibi now has a stable source of income and proudly declares that she has Rs. 50-60000worth of merchandize in her shop. She says she feeds her children well and has sent them to a private school in hopes of securing a bright and prosperous future for them. With the income generated from her business she has recently renovated her house and bought a deep freezer for her shop.for ice cream and bottles. Gone are the days when she used to eat out of her mother’s home, now she proudly displays her jewellery which she has bought for herself and her house is equipped with a TV, washing machine, fan, etc. Nasreen bibi is now a centre manager laughs about the days when people used to ridicule her for taking help from Kashf. She says that the same people now ask her to help them get a loan from Kashf and many women have started their own businesses after witnessing her success. Nasreen bibi feels confident in her self as she knows she can earn and look after her family and doesn’t have to ask anybody for anything. She now stays busy. She has an active social life and is looking forward to further expanding her business and successfully marrying off her children.
Five years ago, Khalida’s husband was a daily laborer struggling to make ends meet. They had five children, three sons and two daughters. In an attempt to help her husband, Khalida used to make charpoys and stitch clothes but despite their combined efforts the family didn’t have a permanent source of income. Khalida joined Kashf and with her first loan ventured into the milk business. She used to buy milk from somebody and then sell it at a profit. She used her second loan to further inject money into this business. With her third loan she not only put money into her own business but also gave money to her son to start his own paint business. The loans that followed were used by Khalida bibi to buy cows and then sell them at a profit all the time keeping one cow with her whose milk she sold. As milk had always been the livelihood of Khalida bibi’s maternal family, she feels this business is in her blood and that she has a natural knack for it. Kashf enabled her to fulfill and succeed in her lifelong dream, that is to run her own very profitable milk business and to see her family prosper. Khalida bibi proudly declares that she earns about rs.10000 monthly through selling milk, sixty percent of which she saves for her daughter’s wedding. One of her daughter’s is married and the other one is engaged to be married. As her business provided a stable source for income for her family, it allowed her husband to dabble into the property business as a result of which the family owns houses which provide them stable monthly income through rent and Khalida bibi herself has bought some land to keep her cows. All three of her sons are now earning members of the family. Khalida’s husband runs his own property business. Khalida feels that by empowering her, Kashf has freed her family from uncertainty and poverty. As Khalida has helped all her sons establish their own sources of livelihood, they look up to her and often seek her advice. Everybody in her family recognizes Khalida for the strong level headed woman that she is and appreciates her contribution to her family’s well being.
Shehnaz Baji is 42 years old and is the mother of 7 children, 4 son’s and 3 daughters. Her husband and the eldest son are shoemakers by profession. The income derived from shoemaking was not enough to sustain a family of nine and they lived facing a lot of hardships and difficulties. Three years ago Shehnaz Baji took a Rs. 8000 loan from Kashf, with the help of this loan she built an additional room in her house which was set up as a video store, and bought a TV. After she had spent the general loan she took the emergency loan of Rs. 2000, from this loan she bought a second hand CD player and bought CDs of Indian and Pakistani movies. She started renting these CDs to her neighbors. From her second and third loan of Rs. 12000 and Rs. 14000 respectively she continued to improve her video store and had a PCO set up in the same shop. She now has two phones in her PCO. Shehnaz Baji runs the PCO while her second eldest son runs the video store.
Shehnaz Baji’s praiseworthy initiatives and hard work have dramatically changed her and her family’s income levels. Before she set up the video store and PCO her Husband and son used to earn Rs. 250 -300 daily, now in addition to that income they earn Rs. 500-600 daily from the video store and the PCO, i.e. the total income of their family nears Rs. 1000 per day. Shehnaz Baji was extremely thankful that now they no longer need to take money on high interest rates from the local Pathans. She feels that both she and her family have gained more respect in their community and now have a much more happier and peaceful domestic life. Shehnaz Baji’s future plan includes expanding her business, renovating her house and if possible building a bigger house.
Ten years ago, when Razia got married, she moved in with her husband into a cramped one storey apartment in Bedian, Lahore. A year after her marriage, she gave birth to her eldest daughter, followed shortly by the birth of a son the next year. At the birth of their third child, Razia and her husband realized that they would have to considerably increase their household income to be able to afford the education of their rapidly growing number of children.
Thus, in the year 2000, Razia took a loan of Rs. 4,000 from Kashf Foundation and along with her husband, opened a shop selling chaandi varak (edible silver foil beaten into thin sheets used to decorate sweetmeats and other traditional desserts). They would import their raw material from India and sell it from the shop which they had opened within their house. Next year, she took a bigger loan of Rs. 8,000. With the profits they generated and the next Kashf loan of Rs. 12,000, Razia and her husband were able to send their eldest daughter to school. The following three years brought increasing loan amounts from Kashf Foundation and profits from their business, along with increasing expenses due to the birth of two more children, a son followed by a daughter. With the extra money, they were able to buy the floor above their apartment and rent it out.
Her latest Kashf loan amounted to Rs. 25,000. Razia feels that the improvement in her economic status has been largely due to the availability of the monetary funds obtained by her through Kashf which she was able to invest in her business. She now has an equal say in the affairs of her household and an equal control over the fate of her children. Her future plans include expanding her business and giving her children the best education within her means. Beaming with maternal pride, Razia elaborates at length about the accomplishments of her eldest daughter who is in fourth grade and nearing the completion of her hifz (learning the Quran by heart). Four of her five children are enrolled in school with her youngest son in prep class. Her youngest daughter who is two years old stays with her at home. Razia feels grateful to Allah for listening to her prayers and allowing her to achieve her goals.
KASOOR (K1 Branch)
Hamsheeran, a native of Kasur, is a single mother living with her one and only child, a twenty-one year old daughter. Twenty years ago, when Hamsheeraan’s husband deserted her after six months of marriage and ran away to Faisalabad, she was left with the bleak option of returning to her paternal home with her newborn daughter. Her father took them in but warned Hamsheeraan not to depend on the charity of her four brothers and encouraged her to be self-sufficient. However, that was not the end of Hamsheeran’s troubles. Her dreams of educating her daughter were cruelly shattered when she discovered her daughter’s mental impairment and was forced to pull her out of school in third grade. Hamsheeraan tried to get her daughter apprenticed as a seamstress but was again met by disappointment. During this time, she strove to make ends meet with the paltry wage that she earned while working for a cane/basket weaving shop. She felt unable to get out of the cycle of poverty and dependency that she felt trapped in.
Four years ago, when one of her friends suggested that she obtain a loan from Kashf Foundation, Hamsheeraan was apprehensive about committing to the bi-monthly installments. However, after considerable encouragement, she took a general loan of Rs. 6,000 in 2001 from Kashf Foundation. With this amount, she was able to buy raw cane and with the help of her daughter, make it into mooray (sitting stools made out of cane) and chikain (blinds/curtains made from cane) to sell to a wholesaler directly. Thus Hamsheeran started earning profits directly from her own small business rather than working for someone else. Her business profits and the second Kashf loan worth Rs. 12,000 allowed her to build a house on the four marlay plot of land next to her brother’s property. Her business prospered and with the third Kashf loan of Rs. 18,000, she continued expanding her output and managed to obtain private water supply for her house. The fourth Kashf loan worth Rs. 24,000 enabled her to buy a bigger supply of cane and dori, as well as hire a worker to help out in the weaving.
With her next loan from Kashf Foundation, Hamsheeraan aims to buy a trolley that will help in transporting her raw materials to her house and the finished product to the market. Hamsheeraan works tirelessly from eight in the morning to six in the evening along with her daughter, who is a Center Manager in one of the centers in the Kasur Branch. However, Hamsheeraan feels proud of what she has achieved through her persistent hard work, dedication and perseverance. Her standard of living has ameliorated considerably in the past five years and she is able to set aside around Rs. 20,000 in savings annually. She is grateful to Kashf Foundation for its timely help in her hour of need. Her improved economic situation and financial independence has raised her status in the eyes of her family and her relatives and gained her respect in her greater village community. She also feels that her faith in her own capabilities has deepened in the past few years since she has become a Kashf client. Her future plans include marrying her young daughter to her nephew next year. For now, Hamsheeran wishes to continue working and growing her business and encourages her daughter to continue working with her even after her marriage.
Nazeeran bibi has six children. She has been blessed with three sons and three daughters. Nazeeran bibi and her family work together and make cane roofs for poultry farms and cane stools. Two of her children, one son and one daughter, are handicapped and cannot speak, but they also work and are experts in making cane furnishings. The entire family works together in their home and then sends their merchandize to other cities for sale. Her husband mainly handles transport and sale of the merchandize but also helps in its manufacture. Five years ago, Nazeeran bibi’s family was living from hand to mouth as they used to work as laborers and received daily wages which did not provide them with a stable source of income, after having one meal they used to be unsure as to where their next meal was coming from. Then Nazeeran bibi joined Kashf and with the loans she received from Kashf, she has managed to establish a sound business that ensures a stable income for her family. The loans have enabled her to buy merchandize in bulk and start her own family business. After successfully completing three loan cycles, Nazeeran is now in her fourth loan cycle and is looking forward to further expanding her business and marrying her daughters. She proudly declares that her family is now”khushal” or prosperous. She can now afford to send her son to school, buy books and uniform and she even manages to save monthly. Nazeeran feels that Kashf has empowered her to change her family’s fate and reminisces about the days before Kashf. When Nazeeran wanted to join Kashf, even her husband doubted her, but now he appreciates her for taking the initiative as it has all turned out for the best and her family’s condition has been dramatically changed.
Four years ago, before joining Kashf, Rasheeda bibi and her family had no stable source of income as her husband worked at a band shop on commission and her sons worked on daily wages. Her sons were experts in doing embroidery and “salma sitara” work. As Rasheeda bibi had nine children, such paltry and unstable earnings were not enough to feed the entire family. They often had to borrow money to meet their day to day needs. Rasheeda bibi wanted desperately to change her family’s condition, so when she heard about Kashf she convinced her husband to let her join Kashf to get funds to start her own business. With her first loan, Rasheeda bibi bought cloth, equipment and other materials to start her own embroidery business with her sons. Due to her initiative, she has managed to establish a thriving business and now she and her sons can work in their home and derive a stable income. With the income generated from this business, Rasheeda bibi has managed to save and recently helped her husband purchase and start his own band shop. Gone are the days when food used to present a problem, now Rasheeda bibi is more interested in expanding her business. She says that she always has money and savings and does not need to ask her husband for anything. In fact she is in a position to help her husband. Rasheeda bibi’s husband appreciates her efforts and sometimes jokes that she doesn’t need him anymore. Rasheeda bibi now sends her only daughter to school and hopes for a better prosperous future for her daughter. Her future plans include expanding her home and purchasing her own shop.
Four years ago, Arshaad bibi’s husband suffered major losses in his cane stool business. Desperately wanting to change her family’s condition, Arshaad bibi joined Kashf. She used the loan she received to inject cash into her husband’s business and bought raw materials in bulk to save money. The consecutive loans were also used to expand the business through adding more and more clients. Arshaad bibi and her husband get cane stools made, wrap them and supply them to shops in Rawalpindi, Jehlum, etc. Although they have labor working for them, Arshaad bibi and her husband make it a point to work together for at least two hours every evening so as to save some money which would otherwise go as labor wages. Before joining Kashf, they could barely meet their day to day expenses and lack of money and food lead to domestic violence. Now all of her children, except the youngest one who is too young, go to school and she has recently renovated her house as well. On being asked how Kashf has changed her life, she proudly displays her jewellery, which she has recently bought, and says that now she has a mobile, a color TV, etc. But declares that these material possessions would not have meant anything, had they not been accompanied by peace of mind. She feels that the greatest change has been in her husband’s attitude towards her. He now treats her as an equal and consults her before making major decisions. She now maintains her own personal saving and looks forward to the completion of her children’s education. She wants to enable them to get good jobs, looks forward to their weddings and prays that they never experience the hardships that she has.
SHIKHUPURA (Ali Park Branch)
Shaista bibi has eight children, three sons and five daughters. Her family’s main source of livelihood is a small road side general store run by her sons. Four years ago, the marriage of two of her daughters put a strain on the family’s finances and their shop was not doing well as they did not have enough money to buy merchandize in bulk. Her husband was also suffering from some health problems. Shaista bibi realized that she needed to do something to change her family’s condition so she sought help from Kashf. The loans that she received were used to inject money into her family business. Now the small pan shop has changed into a general store located at a prime location so it has become a thriving business. After successfully completing two loan cycles, she is now in her third loan cycle and looks forward to further expansion of the business. Shaista feels that Kashf has saved her dignity and self respect by helping her and saving her from asking other people for money. Her sons hold in high esteem and give their mother a fixed share of their earnings for her personal savings. People look up to her and ask for advice, so much so, that she has been elected as a councilor from Habib colony. She won the union council elections unopposed. So she has now become a highly respected member of her community.
When Zareena bibi’s husband and father of six children died, she was devastated. His long illness had already put a strain on the family’s finances as they were all dependant on him. His illness and her family’s condition had instigated Zareena to join Kashf as she wanted to start some business and establish a source of income for her family as her sons were still very young. She used her first loan to buy a cow whose milk she sold. She was in her first loan cycle when her husband died and this forced her sons to mature abruptly and think of helping their mother support their family. She used her second loan to set up a clothes stall for her son. When he showed her he was serious about his business, she took another loan to inject money into his business, her other son has recently started working at a factory. Now her family has three earning hands, she and both her sons have a stable income. Zareena thanks God that both her sons have realized their responsibility and now respect and listen to their mother besides bringing her money. Now the family has a stable source of income and Zareena is looking forward to marrying off her daughters. She is grateful to Kashf for helping her when nobody else would and for empowering her to change her family’s fate.
Gujranwala (Kamoki Branch)
Naseem Akhtar is a client of Kashf Foundation, Kamoki Branch, Gujranwala. Her husband, Mushtaq Akhtar, used to be a seller of artificial flowers and they were content with their lot in life. However, unfortunately, his shop caught fire and was burned to the ground. Their income level plummeted and their living conditions deteriorated from bad to worse as they could not bear the education and food expenses of their children. They were disappointed, but their disappointment vanished when they came to know about Kashf Foundation. Naseem explained her case to the Kashf Foundation and it extended her a loan of Rs. 8,000. Her husband resumed his flower shop and with determination and hard work, they started to earn money. Once their business was established, they started repaying the loan to Kashf.
Next time, they got a loan of Rs. 12,000 and started a new business of rice bags manufacturing. Their household condition got better and they returned the loan and demanded another one next year worth Rs. 18,000. They expanded their business and began to hire more workers. Thus, they have provided a source of livelihood to the other women of their town. Now, they have a happy home and a prosperous business. They are able to afford the education of their children in well-reputed schools and are thankful to Kashf Foundation.
Sajida and her family were confronted with a lot of difficulties, when the factory in which Sajida’s Husband, Malik Ibrahim Tanveer worked, closed down. Her Husband was unable to find another job, and hence they had to take away their two children from school. Sajida started doing embroidery work but their income was only Rs. 3500 per month. Then Sajida became Kashf’s client, and took a loan of Rs. 10,000. Sajida and her Husband bought bicycles and started to rent them. Their economic position started to improve and they thought of expanding their current business and also to try their luck in a new one, i.e. they started a mobile calling card business, they got mobile calling cards from the various suppliers in the market and started selling these cards in their neighborhood. Now Sajida and her family earn up to Rs. 7000 per month. Both of their children have started to go to school again.