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.
Our 9 super stars had unique life situations and can be role models for any human anywhere.
Nosheen Memon was supported by IRC till the intermediate level at college until the time her family was able to pay for her tuition. After graduating from Quest Engineering University of Nawabshah she is now a lecturer at Shaheed Benazir Bhutto University, Khairpur.
Nazia Memo, the daughter of a farmer, was an IRC student from the first grade. She is now completing her Mechanical Engineering (ME) degree from Mehran University of Jamshoro.
Tanzila Memon, Nazia’s sister, enrolled in our school at the nursery level. Self driven and inspired by her sister, Tanzila studied in the IRC school till Matric and is doing her Bachelors in Engineering (BE) now.
Resham Naz became a student of SMS at the nursery level. Also, a daughter of a farmer, Resham routinely topped her class, and is currently completing her degree in Mechnical Engineering (ME) from Quest University, Larkana.
Zaira Memon, another nursery level entry, was always a star in Mathematics. Born in a very modest family, Zaira faced and overcame many obstacles in college, including difficulty in paying hostel and transport expenses. Zaira is now about to complete her Bachelors in Engineering.
Muniza Memon joined our school at the nursery level. It was her mother’s dream that she become an engineer. One can only imagine her mother’s joy when Muniza obtained her Bachelors in Engineering.
Faiza Memon, comes from a family that had no male children. Her parents transferred Faiza to the IRC school in grade 7 after much insistence on our part to allow her to continue higher education. Now that she has completed her Bachelors in Engineering from Quest University Larkana, her family has is full of pride.
Kiran Siraj is another IRC graduate. She enrolled in grade 6 and dreams of getting a job in United States of America after completing her Mechanical Engineering.
Shereen Memon, faced many financial challenges after her father died. She worked hard to overcome these obstacles to enrol in her Bachelors in Engineering and now dreams of making great inventions in electronics.
We wish our girls all the best and hope they will achieve all their dreams.
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.