Shumaila Bibi

Kaarvan Alumnus
KCF Training institute


Sitting on a charpoy in her barely standing brick-house with no roof over her, Shumaila Bibi recalls her struggles in life. The house with a couple of mud-rooms, a toilet but no kitchen speaks itself of the struggles that she and her family continue to endure.  She is surrounded by her three little children, who continue to smile and are awed by the presence of their guests lending much importance to their mother; clearly proud of her.

Shumaila is a single mother, who has raised her children solely for the last five years. She managed to seek a divorce (khula) from her drug-addict, unemployed & violent husband. Shumaila was married under Watta Satta, (a common practice in rural areas wherein two siblings are married to the opposite sexes of two siblings from another family). While her brother’s marriage with her husband’s sister was a rather happy one, same was not the fortune of Shumaila. Her husband turned out to be a regular drug-addict, who would beat his wife occasionally if she would fail to lend money from her parents. Managing money became a rarity and his violence became frequent, until one day he broke her nose throwing her on the edge of their charpoy. Her eyes are misty, holding back tears as she recollects the physical & emotional trauma. She is strong. She does not want to be seen crying in front of her children.

Shumaila moved to her parents’ house after the divorce where fourteen people now reside. Wanting to take control of her own life, she joined Kaarvan’s SFM program 2013-2014. She learnt to stitch while attending classes in the morning and working tirelessly in a nearby factory in the evening to earn wage so she could put food in front of her children at night, often sleeping hungry herself. After completion of the trainings, she started stitching clothes for her neighborhood and started travelling to acquire orders of the market. She questions the position of divorced women and morals of certain people in the society who wouldn’t want to be in trade with her because she was divorced. She nevertheless moved on, undeterred, and finally managed to begin earning enough to put all three of her children to a public school, after being rejected once before.

Shumaila does not work in the factory anymore, focusing her time on stitching which has a better income potential for her. She recently joined Kaarvan’s SFE program to expand her skills in Fashion Design, and wants to expand her product portfolio. She strives to earn not only for her children’s future, but also to install improvements in the house such as a proper kitchen to benefit her entire family. Shumaila’s happiest moment came a few months back, when her eldest son got called on stage in his school for a first position in academics in his class. She presents his cup proudly, her face beaming with joy through all the melancholy, as she recollects her son’s words: ‘Mother, this is all because of you’.