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Welcome to Chowraha - crossroads!

Chowraha is the crossroads of thoughts, events, opinions and feelings...all that have been shaped by individuals living in an increasingly complex world inter-connected through various means of communications.

This blog is about the crossroads in society - whether it is those of a diaspora community, global media complicating the structure of nations and cultures, or individuals finding parallels in spaces unknown to them.

The above picture is courtesy a much-admired photographer (Ali Khurshid) whose work is a source of inspiration and reaffirms the belief in the complex beauty of this world.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Positive Change - bit by bit

When I sat with Saba Hameed last summer, our meeting which was supposed to last an hour turned into a day’s event. Our conversation which ranged from poetry to politics, and wealth (or the lack of it) to education was more fruitful than many conversations I have engaged in with people I may meet every day of my life. The confidence in her face, the calmness in her smile and the glimmer in her eyes was stronger than that I had ever seen before and yet deep down I was not sure where fate would take her next. Given the limited opportunities she had being born in a farmer’s family in a small conservative village of Punjab, I could only wish that her intelligence and spark for life would meet its rewards.

When a month later I learned of her results in grade 12th, I had tears of joy, rather elation, in my eyes. My anxiety for her and the girls of her community had been turned wrong. Saba had secured third position in her board examinations all across Punjab. Saba had proved that her hard work and her passion to learn would reap its rewards despite her background. As she stood next to her more privileged counterparts to receive an award from the ministry of education, she smiled with pride. She had proven that the real hope for Pakistan lay in educating its masses, educating those who may not have the same opportunities for life as the more financially blessed ones.

I was not just extremely happy for her but also for myself and my colleagues, for the people supporting the cause of education and for every other girl receiving education against all odds. Saba is a friend of mine – a friend who has taught me to be grateful for what I have and to be hopeful for my country. Saba has been with TCF since grade 6 and her journey till grade 12th has not been an easy one. There have been periods when her mother has felt that Saba has studied enough and moments when she herself was not sure how long she could carry on. With the support of her principal and teachers and the trust her father had reposed in her, Saba continued through her academic career steadfastly making the path towards schooling for the younger members of her family easier. I can only imagine how proud her family and community must be. I can only smile when I think how her children will have a mother convinced of her family’s need for education. I can only be proud of saying that she will be an intelligent young woman, an educated woman leading the future of Pakistan towards real enlightenment.

Saba wants to be a lecturer in a college or university. She has a passion for reading Urdu poetry and she is an excellent orator. The eloquence of her words and the conviction in her speech taught me that education was not just a matter of reading and rote-learning – education’s end result is enlightenment and wisdom, a destiny that is only reached when the journey entails passion for learning and the love for teaching and a heart for sharing. She was a source of encouragement for me – a source of optimism in the future. She is an agent of positive change for me.


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