Askar, 12, lives with his mother and two younger siblings in Hilru Nagar, a small village in Sri Lanka, 12km away from their nearest city.
Their closest school is 5km away and, with little money to pay for transport, families like Askar’s struggle to find a way to ensure their children get there. For Askar, his journey to school involved an hour’s walk followed by a bus ride. Every morning he would try to avoid this extensive journey by hitching a lift with anyone who drove by. Although dangerous, it saved his energy for his school work.
“I always feel tired once I reach school,” said Askar. “Normally I get home by 3 o’clock – one and a half hours later than when I finished school.”
On mornings when he couldn’t get a lift from a stranger, Askar was often late to school because of the distance he had to walk. In the rainy season, it took up to three times as long to travel.
His younger brother, five-year-old Askan, is not able to go to school due to the distance.
When we first met him, Askar’s shoes were damaged and too small. His school bag was also broken but his mother couldn’t afford to buy him a new one because of the loan she took out to pay for water.
In 2015, Islamic Relief Waqf supported the education of 1,250 school children by providing them with school shoes, bags and stationary items that are vital for their continued learning. We also gave 150 children, like Jamiya, their own bike, to make their journey to school less tiring. With the extra energy and time, the children will be able to focus more on their studies. They’ll also be able to support their family when collecting water and food from the market.
“Since he received a bicycle, Askar has been so much happier. I can see the joy on his face,” Askar’s grandfather told us.
Before he received a bike, Askar was forced to be absent from school if no vehicles passed by him, but now he is able to reach school on time every day. Instead of his three hour round trip, it now takes Askar 20 to 30 minutes to get to school.
“The bike is very useful for me. Now I can get to school on time. I will also be able to use it to go to Madrasa and to help my grandparents go to the shops,” said Askar. “I don’t know how to express in words how happy I am.”
Askar will now be able to continue school and he’s determined to become top in his class, but other children around the world are still dropping out because of simple issues like transport. Please help us to reach them.