Amal tells her story ~ the story of a 12-year old Pakistani girl with dreams. She dreams of becoming a teacher, sharing her love for learning and language with all the children of her village One day she accidentally insults a member of her village’s ruling family and her dream is shattered.
As punishment for her behavior, Amal is forced into servitude. She must leave her family and friends to go to work for the Kahns at their family estate. Distraught by this turn of events, Amal gathers her courage and determines to make the best of things. It is a terrible situation, but she is willing to give her all for her family’s safety and future.
Once at the estate there are many rules Amal must learn – those that govern her life as a servant and those that define her place in the hierarchy of staff. It is difficult, but Amal is determined to succeed. Over time, the things Amal observes and learns makes her feels more and more uncomfortable. She begins to understand how ruthless the Kahn family is willing to be in order to maintain their power and position. Amal decides, if she’s ever going to see her family again or have any opportunity in her future, she must take action. If is frightening, but… she finds a way!
Omar, Amal’s best friend, tells his story too. He has recently a scholarship to Ghalib Academy Boarding School – a game changer for his life. He is the son of a servant and this opportunity, he believes will open the door to a whole host of opportunities. He can’t wait to play soccer, join the science club and discover all the new ideas and information available to him.
He soon learns, however, that there are no sports or clubs for scholarship students. In fact, there may not be a second year for scholarship students – no matter how hard he tries. He’s. been set up to fail. Regardless of what Omar has been told, he decides to do all he can. He studies endlessly. He works hard at his in the kitchen. He is helpful and kind. Everyone deserves a chance and he find a way to learn from everyone as he works to build his future.
This combination of kindness, determination, and the relationship building leads Omar forward. It’s not easy, but he finds a way to change what at first seems to be an impossibly rigged system established to keep “scholarship” kids down.
There is so much to learn from these characters and the struggles they endure – for things we take for granted each day. I am grateful for what we have and am reminded of the importance of checking in with others – do you have what you need? Can I be your voice? Can I find a way to add in? Can I help? What can I do to ease the struggles of others?