by Rick Perera, Media & Communications Officer
Just 12 years old, he carries the weight of the world on his narrow shoulders. The eldest of five children of a widowed mother, Sajjad Ahmad feels responsible for his family. It”s not easy being the man of the house at such a young age.
Sajjad reminds me of myself at 12: small for his age, with a mop of brown hair, ruddy cheeks, and a turned-up nose. But the resemblance stops there. At a time when my life was filled with friendships, games, and learning, his are long days of idleness and worry.
His childhood was cut short a month ago, when his family
fled their home in
The Ahmad family is crowded, along with 80 other newly
homeless people, into this three-room schoolhouse in the
There”s sadness in Sajjad”s eyes, but tenderness too, as he drapes his arms around his little sister Hadiya, 8, and their two-year-old brother Waqas. “I miss my classmates and friends,’ says the third-grader.
What would you like to do when you grow up, I ask – imagining that, with typical youthful optimism, he might have big dreams: doctor, engineer, pilot.
Instead, Sajjad sees a future of duty and devotion.
“I want to take care of my mother,’ he says. “We want peace.’