• Literacy for Life

QUARAT: From poverty and abandonment to promising career


Chapter one of Qurat’s American dream has been a story of struggle: abandonment, single motherhood, poverty.


Unexpectedly finding herself on her own with her daughter, Qurat resolved to build a life in the United States because she believes that America offers opportunity, especially for her three-year-old daughter. And so, despite many hurdles and hardships, she perseveres. Qurat came to Literacy for Life to seek help improving her English so that she could find a job, navigate the community, and pursue further education.


At the time, the catch-22 proved too much: Without a job, she could not afford childcare. Without childcare, she could not get a job or attend English classes. Meanwhile, she was uncomfortable relying on friends of friends for a place to live, so her highest priority was to find housing—but how could she do it without savings or an income? Qurat was unable to follow through with Literacy for Life at that time, but she had made an impression on staff, who hoped that the smart and determined woman from Pakistan would return—and she did. On her own, Qurat obtained her first job at a fast food restaurant. Her entire paycheck went toward the cost of childcare so that she could work.


Undeterred, she managed to navigate social services and applied for assistance. She secured discounted childcare and has begun saving money toward her first apartment. Qurat is determined to find better employment and has decided to pursue a career in health care. She signed up for a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) course at Heart to Heart Career Training Center and returned to Literacy for Life (staff were thrilled!). She was matched with her tutor, Ann, who spent her career in health care as a nurse, administrator, and academic. Ann began helping Qurat prepare for her CNA course. They were newly matched—squeezing in meetings after Qurat’s shift ended at the restaurant, and before she had to pick up her daughter—when the COVID pandemic hit.


Unable to meet in person, Qurat suggested to Ann that they meet virtually, using WhatsApp, and so they persevere. When they meet, Qurat is usually in a parking lot, in a borrowed car, for the hour she has free between work and picking up her daughter. (Photo on right) She holds her phone up to the textbook so that Ann can see the material and help Qurat with her reading and vocabulary.


Ann, her volunteer tutor, says of Qurat: “Qurat is highly motivated. She takes responsibility for her learning and sets high standards for herself. Her smile, her laughter and her joy shines through, even in her most difficult moments. I am honored to have Qurat in my life, not only as her tutor but also as my friend.


"Taking the CNA course is only the beginning of Qurat’s plans for her future. She intends to begin working in the health care field, to stack additional credentials, and eventually to attend college to become a registered nurse.


Although it has been challenging, Qurat feels so very fortunate to be in the U.S., where she and her daughter have opportunities that would never have been available

otherwise. She is hopeful and has great determination in forging a life for herself and her daughter.

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