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Student starts clown work to avoid begging on the streets

She has to care for her ailing mother

SAMAA | - Posted: Sep 3, 2021 | Last Updated: 3 weeks ago
SAMAA |
Posted: Sep 3, 2021 | Last Updated: 3 weeks ago

Saima always dreamed of becoming a doctor but she had little idea that she would end up working as a clown on the streets.

“I have lost a lot in life,” Saima said on SAMAA TV’s show Naya Din. “First my father, who died with his dreams, and then my own aspirations.”

Saima's father and two brothers passed away within just three years. She had to start earning a living in Lahore to support her ailing mother as no one from her family or friends helped her through the crises. Disguising her misery and grief in a clown's costume was hardly a choice but life's choices had shrunk.

Saima appeared for many job interviews while pursuing her education but due to a tough schedule couldn’t take up any of the jobs as she had to take care of her mother as well. She did find one job, which seemed to accommodate her timings.

“Things went smoothly for four months,” Saima said. But then her employer started making inappropriate demands on her, such as going out for a meal with him as a personal secretary. He never discussed this as the job requirement when she was interviewing because he wanted her to settle in and see if she met his “standards”. 

“He said in a meeting that I was his wife,” Saima recalled. She told him that she was not comfortable with him saying things like that and that it would create problems for her if her family found out about it. Saima had been warned of a culture of harassment and exploitation at her organisation by one of her friends who had worked there before.

She left the job and was so destitute that she even considered begging on the streets.

But then she saw a child dressed as a clown to entertain other children to make ends and this inspired her. “That child taught me such a great lesson that I could do anything for my mother,” said Saima. When she started working as a clown she felt as if the Saima in her had "died". S

But even this job came with challenges. She has been slapped and called names by men on the street, some of whom think she is a man or transgender behind the mask. She earns Rs700 to Rs800 a day.

Clarification

On Aug 27, SAMAA TV's morning show Naya Din covered Saima's story and an NGO came forward to offer its help. However, by Aug 31 the Punjab chief minister had already tasked the DC of Lahore to intervene.

The DC visited Saima's home and offered her financial assistance. She now has a job with the Civil Defense.

Some people had been making the baseless accusation that SAMAA TV had not actually helped Saima and had taken her financial assistance. None of this bears out, as evidenced by the official pronouncements of the DC and CM House. Saima herself issued a video to clarify exactly what had transpired in her case and how the government had helped her. She thanked SAMAA TV for raising her voice and giving her story coverage.

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