For young Afghans, the future is uncertain. Nowhere is this more true than within the population of 1.7 million Afghan refugees living in Pakistan. Driven from their country by natural disasters and war, many refugees, particularly those within the Turkmen community, make their living weaving rugs. Other jobs—within Pakistan or Afghanistan—are few and far between, and the jobs that are available require something that the majority of refugees do not have—education.
For Barakat graduate Yousuf Shah, an education made all the difference.
Yousuf was born in Afghanistan, but moved with his family to Attock, Pakistan when he was only 3 years old. When his family heard about Barakat from relatives, they immediately decided to support Yousuf’s education. “They wanted me to have what they were deprived of,” said Yousuf.
It was difficult at times. “My family had a hard time when we started our schooling; it was a hard time to spend money because we had such a low income and we couldn’t contribute fully to earning income because we were in school,” said Yousuf. However, his family continued to support him and his siblings and eventually Yousuf graduated from one of Barakat’s schools, moving on to a local school for the 9th and 10th grade.
He went on to find a job in Dubai, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, where he now works as a record keeper in a carpet export company. He works hard at his job, waking up at 5 am every morning to get to work on time, sometimes staying past normal closing hours in order to earn overtime. He credits his education as the reason why he was able to find this job. “I’m doing this job because of my education. Without it, I would be a rug weaver in somebody’s factory.”
Yousuf has hope for the future. “I want to make progress in my work. In time, I may be able to find an even better job. “ He is focused on using the skills he learned at Barakat’s school to better his own life. He has not forgotten, however, about his home. “I will try my best to promote education in the Afghanistan community,” said Yousuf. After all, who knows better than him what a difference an education can make.