Volunteer Journey

A Shy Girl Learns to Speak Up

Living in the infamously violent and destitute town of Lyari is Eiman Rafiq, a 17-year- old girl who bravely attends school where too many children remain homebound due to security concerns. She is one of seven children of a daily-wage laborer in this densely packed town of about 1 million people struggling to complete her education in a volatile and unstable environment.

IRC and Eiman intersected when Government Girls Secondary School – Gharibabad was selected for IRC’s ‘Pathways to Success’ project. In collaboration with ENGRO Foundation and under USAID this was our intervention program for adolescent girls’ ‘Life Skills Based Education’ (LSBE). Our attentive staff noticed Eiman’s hesitation during the registration process.

This determined girl who was courageously present in school, was quiet and not taking initiative with choosing her learning activities. Our teachers built her confidence with encouragement and class participation which enhanced her personality and morale. Her parents remarked that she has become a mentor to her younger siblings and wants to be a life coach for other children.

We marvel at Eiman as an example of an effective school environment inducing personal progress which is contagious to peers and lays the seed for change in societies that have been left behind.

A remote village sets foot in the world

Nine young girls, graduates of a small IRC school in the village of Razal Memon in Sobhodero, Sindh, have now become engineers. This is not a fairy tale, but a remarkable journey of struggle that, at once, lifts our spirits and makes us despondent. To see that such immense potential of Pakistani youth has been wasted for so many years, makes the mission education a race against time.

Sojhero Model School (SMS) – of DIL-IRC partnership – was started in 1997 to address the low enrolment and high drop out rates of girls from local government schools. One major reason was co-education models. In the Sojhodero Model schools, a minimum 75% female enrollment is mandated, and boy-relatives of girl students are allowed admission. This became a very conducive environment for girls to pursue their education without sidelining the boys of the village from also benefiting from this opportunity.

More than a nurse

Saima Abbasi’s life journey is more than a remarkable academic struggle, and her success is more than obtaining her nursing degree. She was born in an exceptionally impoverished family in the village of Muhammad Panjal without access to a local school. Her mother, with a unique vision, propelled Saima to her aunt in the town of Khuhra where she enrolled in a DIL-IRC school.

It was here that the school principal injected in her the desire to do Nursing upon learning of admission openings. Convincing her mother to grant permission was much easier than winning the approval of other relatives who continued to make her the subject of criticism and libel.

As if that was not enough burden for a young girl, her next struggle was to challenge the height restriction of CMH hospital where she dreamt of practicing nursing. Saima was too short for their cut off height limit, but that would not impede her.

She contended, without retreat, that her height was irrelevant to her services as a nurse. Today she works in CMH Hyderabad, leaving a trail of inspiration and hope behind her.

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