August 18, 2008
This week, we have a story from St. Albert, Alberta. The author, Maleka Qaderi has been writing very powerful stories for the last few years. She has been in the one-on-one tutoring program at Star Literacy in St. Albert for six years. She is self employed and works full time in her tailoring shop. She has three children and leads a very busy life.
I once knew an Afghan girl named Sham. I am going to tell you about a time, many years ago, when she was eight years old. She was living with her mother, father and two brothers. She was going to school. Sometimes she came to my relatives' house for a visit. As time went on, the fighting in the country got worse. Sham's family was not a rich family. Her family had a small house and a small business. They were getting poorer and poorer. The fighters didn't let people do their work or go to school. Sham wasn't allowed to go to school anymore. She was at home helping her mother and looking after her brothers. Her father couldn't afford to look after all the family, pay the bills and look after the health of his family. So he had to borrow money from other people and his friend. Mostly he borrowed money from his friend who was more than sixty years old. Time passed. The family's life was getting worse and worse. The father asked his friend so many times to help him money-wise but he couldn't pay him back.
One day Sham's bad luck started and her father's friend who was over sixty years old asked Sham's father to pay him back or make Sham marry him. Sham's father couldn't believe what he heard. By that time she was not even ten years old. Her father felt so bad. The man was warning Sham's father what might happen. Sham was only a poor little innocent girl. But after a few warnings her father had to sell his ten year old lovely daughter to a sixty year old man. Sham was crying and her mother was crying. All the people felt bad and very sad for the poor child. When Sham was crying, she was saying "Let me go home!" The man brought some candy and other snacks. He was treating her like his granddaughter. But Sham was now his wife. No matter what she did, nothing changed. She had to expect that kind of life. She had to spend the rest of her life in the dark and never see the light again. I hope that her life has been getting better by now. Perhaps she has children now. Perhaps she is having a happier life.