Bilal stands as the second to last child from the right as one of the five unsponsored boys.
A home is built by the relations of the people who reside in it. However, it can be just as much a prison for them. As humans, we always search for a sense of belonging, and usually it’s the families who build us, groom us, and teach us. They are the place where we belong. But that can be a distant dream for a child destroyed by his own home.
A kind child, Bilal, has had a hard time knowing what is love. He is a child unable to recognize the comforts of a home because of the atrocities and vulgarities of human nature.
While growing up, all of us look towards our mother, our pillar of support. They guide our emotions. They help us understand what it means to be human. Mothers are the fields where flowers grow. They nurture the child, groom them, and when they fully bloom, mothers make sure that love is never far behind.
But for Bilal, that would never be the case. This motherly love would be something he may learn in books but never experience as his mother passed away when he was young. From there on, his journey of suffering began.
Now after the demise of his mother, Bilal’s father remarried. In most cases, a single parent will marry so that the child does not suffer. However, when his new mother arrived, instead of showering love, she shoved him down. Instead of becoming his foundation, she became a sinkhole, and instead of nurturing him, she traumatized him.
Bilal was alone in the world. His new mother was cruel. It started small, a bit of aggression against the child. Maybe he broke a plate, or maybe he interrupted her for doing something, small things that had no value but created openings for abuse. These were the things she used to victimize herself and take the cruelty out on a little boy who did not know love.
His stepmother would beat Bilal regularly as hard as she could. She never cared for his being. A child beaten only knows pain, a child who should be loved and allowed to fly, his wings were clipped. He wore shackles, and all he knew and understood was suffering.
Such was his fate.
One would assume that maybe, just maybe his father didn’t know or else he would have intervened. A fantasy that would have been. Young Bilal’s father knew everything. He knew that his new wife did not love his child and she beat him when she could. He knew how his only son was tortured by the woman he brought. But he did not care, instead he chose to be on her side. He became a tyrant and an oppressor with her not only because he simply allowed it but also because he took part in it. He beat his only son just to take sides with his wife. He was involved in such an atrocity, and the world was silent. He became not only an enabler but an abuser as well.
Luckily, in some form of divine intervention there was a momentary relief.
When Bilal’s maternal grandfather, or his nana, found out about this, he did the only thing he could. He took Bilal away from his abuser and raised him as his own for as long as he could. However, that too was short-lived. When Bilal’s maternal grandmother died, he lost a part of himself and could not be there for his grandson.
Bilal was truly and utterly alone. He had no one, no one until Lubna Noreen took him in, and he has been with her for the past two years. Now ten years old, he knows more about pain and suffering than any of us will ever see.
Could you imagine, growing up not knowing what it feels to be loved? Physical pain always heals; scars fade with time; wounds fill up. But the psychological trauma left by such inhumane actions does not heal. Maybe he’s young, maybe he might forget, that’s what we can hope for him. But right now, all he understands is pain. He grew with it, and he may not know what kindness is unless people are there for him.
He may have a broken body filled with scars; however, his spirit is stronger than ever. He has lost a childhood but hasn’t lost any hope. Bilal is stronger than ever and he dreams. He dreams to join the army and serve his nation. He dreams respect, joy, and love, and inshallah he will achieve them all. Nobody knows how much he deserves them.
For children like Bilal, we must be kind to them and their world.
So, let us be the support and pillars for him, guide him to the best of our abilities, and provide him with the tools and most importantly prepare him for what is to come and pray for him. May his sufferings ease up with our help.
From Afsana: While we present stories of women on our platform, we also extend this commitment of education and empowerment towards children, like Bilal, who suffer from the trauma of child-abuse. By making a donation to the Noreen Zindagi Welfare Trust and helping to sponsor Bilal, you can help provide young orphans like Bilal the opportunity for a home with food, shelter, and education. You can learn more about our fundraiser for the Noreen Zindagi and donate here.
Update: We are pleased to share that we have reached our fundraiser's goal from above -- your support and funds will sponsor Bilal for the next six months. If you are interested in continuing to support Noreen Zindagi, find out more information here.
Written by Salman Tariq of Afsana