Founding Editor: Shafqat Munir   

Childhood lost in a smoky hotel 

27 Augustus 2010 11:21:51

Childhood lost in a smoky hotel

Sohail Rashid

Our government, as well as the NGO sector, has done a lot of paperwork to eradicate the curse of child labour; yet, our cities are infested with innocent labourers, who are a question mark on the tall claims of the government and private organisations alike.

Rather than studying in a school, 14-year-old Zeeshan Haider is working as a waiter in a smoky hotel near Sir Syed Chowk. He has been doing this job for the last four years, during which he has worked at different hotels and cafes. He hails from Chitral and is currently living in a rented house in Rawalpindi, along with his family.

“I was very keen to join a school till a few years ago, but now I do not harbour any such desire as I have come to grips with the fact that this is not possible in my case,” said Zeeshan Haider while talking to this agency.

Zeeshan’s case is slightly different from that of other working children. He didn’t opt for this job because of the dictates of extreme poverty. In fact, his father is working as a cook in Kabul. Three of his elder brothers are also working. Yet, they are barely able to make both ends meet. But most importantly, the family is reluctant to have Zeeshan admitted to a school because they are totally unaware of the value of education.

“My duty is to deliver orders at shops and in residential rooms in the vicinity of the hotel, for which I have to walk through the day,” said Zeeshan. He has to tolerate harsh words from the manager and occasionally from customers too but he has sealed his lips for fear of being fired from the job. “Losing the job means having to face the harsh attitude of my family as well,” he added.

Children are the most cared segment of any society, and usually in developed countries, are provided with a friendly atmosphere to grow up. We here have a different culture where these innocent souls are not only deprived of their basic rights but also find themselves in the grip of early-age miseries.

When will the miseries of these innocent souls be over? Who will guarantee the provision of basic rights to them? Zeeshan is not the only one asking these questions; there are many others like him. Yet, there is nobody around to provide a satisfactory answer to them all.