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"Until you acquire an education, you will never find out who you really are."
January 6, 2013 9:50 PM   Subscribe

In seventh grade, after school let out, Humaira Mohammed Bachal opened her home in Thatta (Pakistan) to 10-12 friends who weren't allowed to go to school, and taught them what she was learning. By the time she was 16 and ready to take her 9th grade exams, (over her father's objections,) she and four other girls were teaching more than 100 students. Now, her sister Tahira, (age 18,) is principal of the school Humaira founded: with 22 teachers serving more than 1,000 kids in a Karachi slum (yt). All in a country where if you are a young girl in a rural area, you are unlikely ever to see the inside of a classroom, and advocating education for young girls can be life-threatening.

Documentary on Humaira on Blip: A Small Dream.

The NPR article mentions Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai, age 14, who is now recovering from a failed assassination attempt by the Taliban. Miss Yousafzai was the subject of a post this past October on MeFi
posted by zarq (14 comments total) 47 users marked this as a favorite

 
This blog post has more info on Humaira. I didn't include it in the post because it ends with a request for donations, but it's still quite informative.
posted by zarq at 9:51 PM on January 6, 2013



posted by dabitch at 10:05 PM on January 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


Wow! That video almost brought tears to my eyes. Maybe there is some hope for this sick world after all. Thanks for the post.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 10:35 PM on January 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


That people want their children to be ignorant is baffling but knowledge is power and that is frightening. Thanks for sharing this.
posted by shoesietart at 12:41 AM on January 7, 2013


This moved me, deeply. It's amazing how some can make so much, from so little.

Humaira Mohammed Bachal is a hero, and deserving of a MacArthur Award - as well as receiving more support from Pakistani officials. Her work is SO important. Study after study shows that the empowerment and education of women is key to social development and optimization of social capital.
posted by Vibrissae at 1:05 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


That people want their children to be ignorant is baffling....

They don't want their children to be ignorant; just the girls. Girls don't count.

No, seriously, this is what they think, that educating girls is a waste.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:12 AM on January 7, 2013


They don't want their children to be ignorant; just the girls. Girls don't count.

This is true. But it isn't the whole story in Kiracha.

If you watch the videos, one of the things Bachal mentions is the slum's extreme poverty. These are people living on two meals a day, who, when faced with the opportunity to send their children to school or to send them to "workshops" where they can do work that will earn Rs 60-Rs 70, usually choose the latter.

The school provides classes after 9pm for "labor boys" who earn money during the day for their families.
posted by zarq at 4:25 AM on January 7, 2013


I recently met Humaira in person at an Asia Society event in December 2012 in Dhaka. Her English is not that strong but her story and her personality were compelling. She is slowly being recognized for her efforts, even outside of Pakistan.
posted by gen at 4:37 AM on January 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


Dear Nobel committee, take note. This girl has done far more for world peace and prosperity than the last three Peace Price winners combined.
posted by DreamerFi at 5:29 AM on January 7, 2013 [9 favorites]


Gen: More accurate to say, "She is slowly being recognized for her efforts, even (albeit very slowly and reluctantly by the corrupt fundamentalist patriarchal elite) inside of Pakistan."
posted by RandlePatrickMcMurphy at 7:11 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


These are people living on two meals a day, who, when faced with the opportunity to send their children to school or to send them to "workshops" where they can do work that will earn Rs 60-Rs 70, usually choose the latter.

"She looked around Moach Goth area, and all she saw were children playing in the streets. None of them were in school. None of them were studying. And Bachal, 14 years old at that time, thought that was wrong."

It seems more than just a poverty issue, though that is a key element. Since some of these kids are not working, they could be in school.
posted by shoesietart at 8:14 AM on January 7, 2013


Gen: More accurate to say, "She is slowly being recognized for her efforts, even (albeit very slowly and reluctantly by the corrupt fundamentalist patriarchal elite) inside of Pakistan."

Contrary to what you might think, most people I have ever known in Pakistan (and that's a lot of people, given that I've lived about two-thirds of my life there) are very appreciative of people who make efforts to provide educational opportunities. Recognition for one specific person may be slow in coming, but there are more than a few people who do work like this. Not enough to make up for the lack of a viable education system, not enough to make up for a population growing faster than the resources available, and not enough to offset all the many societal factors that go into low school enrollment. They are still there.

Also, the fundamentalists are patriarchal but may or may not be corrupt, the elites are corrupt but may or may not be patriarchal, the corrupt may or may not be fundamentalist or patriarchal or members of the elite, but "corrupt fundamentalist patriarchal elite" is a vanishingly small constituency, if it exists at all.
posted by bardophile at 1:03 PM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh, also, in many cases, it's not that girls don't count, it's that education is seen as useful only insofar as it helps you get a paying job, and girls aren't supposed to get paying jobs. It's too easy to oversimplify the picture. Those oversimplifications make it much harder to help change things.
posted by bardophile at 1:19 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


What a wonderful young woman, and good for her father and brother for being supportive, and her mother for showing her father the way, as well. What an inspiring story.
posted by xingcat at 3:23 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


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