Success stories from VISION’s safe home for children in Lahore, Pakistan

Ali Javed

Ali Javed came to VISION’s safe home for children in 2005, where he soon began to spend most of his time.

He didn’t want to go home: Back home, his family expected him to participate in the family business – playing on drums at events for hire. This wasn’t the life he wanted for himself.

He brought with him a habit he’d picked up during his life away from home: Smoking.

The staff at the safe home often sat down with the children under their care to counsel them… talk to them as parents might have. On the importance of education, for instance, and how valuable it could be in shaping a better future.

Ali Javed became increasingly interested in participating in the informal lessons at the safe home. He learned to read and write in Urdu, along with basic arithmetic.

Vocational training, and how it could lead to good employment, was another subject the safe home staff often discussed with the boys at the shelter. Ali Javed was a quick study.

He soon learned the skills he needed to work in a carton manufacturing facility. An encouraging supervisor there told him that he could ask for a raise if he learned to operate the various machines at the facility. And, over time, Ali Javed acquired these skills too.

All that was missing was the safety and stability of home.

The safe home staff frequently talked to the boys about the importance of family and home as a safe space for young people.

And a few years after Ali Javed started working at the factory, he took the first steps to reconnect with his family. Visiting them while using the safe home in Lahore as a secondary shelter, he slowly rebuilt his relationships, eventually moving out of the safe home altogether.

Today, Ali Javed remains gainfully employed, driving a rickshaw for a part of his day. He believes he is better off pursuing this work than wasting time on other, unnecessary pursuits.

The informal education and skills training he acquired through the safe home have helped tremendously, he says. He one day hopes to take his career aspirations abroad to Dubai.


Sikander came to stay at VISION’s safe home in 2005.

At that time, he was earning money collecting bits and scraps of iron with a magnet from factory runoffs and drains, and scrap dumping sites.

When he wasn’t working, he sniffed glue and smoked to deal with hunger and unwelcome emotions.

He was intrigued when he first heard about VISION’s safe home. But he couldn’t access the shelter unless he quit sniffing glue. Fortunately, the draw of the safety of the shelter won out, and he decided to kick his glue addiction to join the shelter family.

At the shelter, Sikander put his time into learning to read and write.

The VISION staff often used to counsel the boys about the importance of their families and safety of home.

That might have influenced Sikander to revisit his home ties. One day, he announced he’d decided to visit home and to meet his father who was traveling in from Quetta. A few days later he returned to the shelter, happy to have reunited with his family, especially his mother and sisters.

Family had always been on Sikander’s mind.

Sikander’s older brother worked for Pakistan Air Force in Lahore and Sikander had often visited, hiding in the street to watch his nephews at play from afar.

Things continued to improve after he reconnected with family. Sikander started work at a tea stall, submitting his earnings to his mother.

All was well until one day, when his sister-in-law demanded to be given the money instead. Facing pressure from her and bullying from his nephews, Sikander began depositing his earnings with the shelter staff, whom he trusted to keep his money safe.

Some time later, his brother helped him land a job as a security guard, where he received training in security protocols and how to safely handle guns.

Happy today, he is believes he owes it all to the love, security and education provided by VISION.


Shabbir arrived at the VISION’s shelter in 2008. He was quiet, humble and always had a smile on his face. He wasn’t interested in smoking or sniffing glue, but he wasn’t attracted to studying either.

He was the sole breadwinner for his family and did daily odd jobs to support his mother and sisters.

Shabbir’s mother and VISION’s staff often tried to convince him to go back home. And he would return home to visit his family, but he never stayed.

Given the shelter staffs’ emphasis on the safety and security of home, however, something must have trickled through.

Some time after he came to the shelter, Shabbir was away for a few days. And he returned with some good news. He had started regular work at a factory, manufacturing electric wires. He was also living with his family again.

Shabbir kept in touch, visiting the safe home again with more welcome updates. He is now a married father of two, with a job at a machine embroidery factory, earning about Rs. 30,000 per month.

He thanks VISION for the support, love and courage that helped him turn his life around.