45 years old, no formal education, and 3 kids to take care of, Saira Baji has lived through a difficult life. She claims that there has never been any ease in her life. But despite the hardships and the difficult phases, Saira Bibi has made her way through life with a strength that many can only hope to have. Saira says, “I’ve seen mostly bad times in my life, the good times have been far too few. My son fell ill, so he couldn’t work. I myself am ill, and sometimes can’t work. I married my daughter. After a year, she had her own daughter. When she went back home after, a few days later she was drugged and murdered. Her husband took everything and left my daughter and new born granddaughter for dead. While my own daughter died, my granddaughter lived. We spent our lives earnings on getting justice for our daughter. Sold everything; we’re now left with nothing. But there has been no justice for us. The husband will be released any day now, and there is nothing I can do. The little girl is 14 years old new. I only want my daughter’s justice to be given to me. I want someone to take responsibility. But nothing happens.” Saira Bibi, today, takes care of not only her own boys, but also of her granddaughter, whom she refers to as her own daughter.
But while life might not have handed Saira the golden ticket, it did give her more courage and determination than most. Saira began working from home, and providing her products to middle men who would sell to urban markets. During her small scale operation, she came across Kaarvan. After copious trainings, learning about various selling places in urban markets and other soft skills, Saira Bibi was able to use her trainings and become a self-sufficient producer. Instead of depending on middle men to sell her work and take advantage by paying her an unfair amount, she was now able to earn a decent wage. She says, “instead of people benefiting off of my work, I could now use the work to benefit myself.” Her work has now been established to the extent that she has put up exhibitions in numerous urban cities in Lahore.
Today, Saira Bibi has around 30 people working with her. And her aim is to make sure that she can bring in better opportunities for them by gathering more work. Her work is going steady, but she still has a tough battle to face. Saira Bibi claims that she only has control over what she earns. And she uses that money to look after her children. She has battled opposition from her family to keep on working. She has battled opposition from society to fight for her right to justice. She had braved the world in more ways than one can imagine. And there is nothing slowing her down.