Growing up, Aqsa often saw her parents struggle to pay for her education. They would often have to forego meals to cover the cost of her education at a local private school. Even as a child, she was very conscious of how hard her father worked as a manual labourer and was determined to provide a better life for her parents. But although she worked hard and excelled at school, her parents’ meagre income was eventually not enough to cover the rising cost of her education.
A ray of hope emerged when a neighbour informed them about a TCF school in their community, Bhittaiabad, Karachi. Aqsa recalls her first visit to TCF school, where she later enrolled in Grade 6.
“I was amazed to see the huge building and playground. The teachers were attentive, and I really enjoyed participating in extra-curricular activities. But most of all, I was relieved that my education was not a burden on my parents anymore.”
During her time at TCF, Aqsa discovered her passion for medicine and began the rigorous preparation that would eventually help her secure a place at Ziauddin University in Karachi.
“I didn’t have the finances to pursue a 5-year degree. But TCF stepped in and provided me a full scholarship” shares Aqsa.
Whilst at university, Aqsa had a grueling schedule. She would wake up early every morning and travel on multiple buses to get to her university. In the evening, she tutored students so she could pay for her books and travel expenses. She would spend her nights studying to keep up with the demands of her medical degree.
Days of hard work turned into years and Aqsa finally graduated as a Doctor of Physical Therapy. She is the first girl in her family to have gone to university and become a doctor.
“My father’s eyes were full of tears on my graduation day,” Aqsa shares. “I was also very emotional as I realised that I was finally able to give him a break from a difficult life and years of sacrifice,” she adds.