Half the population of Pir Wadhai, Pakistan’s busiest open air bus terminal, is under 15. Eighty percent have been working since they were three, or younger.
As rag pickers, oil collectors and ‘massage boys’, children are exposed to every kind of danger imaginable. Their innocence is cheap, quickly exchanged for a few rupees to feed large, struggling families or, to survive another day with profits to their exploiters.
There is one spark of hope in the midst of deep misery: Manzil, World Vision’s drop-in centre near Pir Wadhai. It offers an alternative timetable for working children at this terminal; an opportunity for them to change their life destination.
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I have visited last year this bus terminal in Rawalpindi and I was apalled by the horrid condition s in which children live around this dreadful place.
In contrast to this, the Manzil Centre, organised by World Vision seemed like a drop from paradise in the midst of hell. I will never forget that visit and the joyful faces of children care for in that centre.