City Portraits – Humaira Bachal – The light of Moach Goth, Karachi.

Photo and Text by SaFire: Find Original Post here

Let me introduce you to twenty two year old Humaira Bachal. The first time I saw her was in the Heroes Session of the Rahbar Program of the Citizens Foundation (“TCF”). Rahbar is a program which focuses on the development of students studying in TCF schools as responsible individuals and productive members of society. In this program individuals from all walks of life spend time with eight and ninth graders studying in various schools in the cities, during the eight weeks of the Rahbar Program. One of the sessions of the program is the, “Hero Speaker” session, where guest speakers talk about their life struggles, with particular focus on how these individuals fought all challenges and succeeded in the face of adversity. In this particular session, Humaira Bachal was the Hero Speaker for the students of the TCF Sumar Goth School.

Dressed in black shalwar kameez and with a red shawl draped over her head, her face was calm and composed, belying the story of her struggle that she would soon unfurl open us. She was the second Hero Speaker for the day and I waited patiently with baited breath for the moment she would speak. And when that moment finally arrived, we were all humbled to dust and she was elevated in our eyes to such a large extent, that we could have made her our queen.

This is her story.

Humaira Bachal moved to the Moach Goth squatter settlement in Karachi City, when her village and her home were destroyed by floods in interior Sindh. Her mother, Zainab Bibi at that time took the bold step of convincing her husband to send Humaira and her younger sister, Tahira to school. The two sisters were the only children to go to school in that particular settlement. Whilst the sisters spent their time in school, their friends played in the streets throughout the day. As a typical first grader, Humaira initially believed that going to school was a punishment. However with time, she soon realized that she infact was the “privileged one”.

Her introspective mind and sensitive nature inevitably led her to feel troubled over the plight of the other children in her neighbourhood. She wanted all her friends to go to school as well but knew that financial constraints would probably never let this happen. Humaira however did not know the meaning of giving up and soon had a novel idea up her sleeve to redress this injustice. She would herself teach the children in the neighbourhood. The only problem was the dearth of stationary, copies and books.

Nothing could be too big of a problem for Humaira. She soon started asking her school friends to donate their old school books, copies and stationary, which she collected in a basket at the end of every class when the teachers were away. Soon Humaira’s home school was functional and being attended by the children of the area.

Although Humaira was actively working to elevate the condition of her own village, she had to face setbacks of her own as well. Her father wanted to pull her out of school when she was in grade eight and get her married. At that time Humaira’s mother begged her husband to let Humaira study further. The result of this plea was a resounding slap across Zainab bibi’s face. Despite physical and verbal abuse and the possibility of social boycott in her community, Zainab bibi continued to convince her husband, who eventually relented when Humaira promised that she would marry anyone deaf, dumb or blind without cavil if her father let her finish school.

As the population of children in her school grew, she persuaded other classmates and juniors at school to join in and help in this noble venture. In 2003 she established, “The Dream Foundation” which was aligned with the aims of this very school. The only problem was that the kitchen floor and the courtyard of her modest home were not spacious enough to accommodate the students. Despair settled in her heart and she realized that perhaps her school would not be able to sustain itself. It was at that time when one of her students encouraged her and Humaira rejuvenated by their faith started to look for solutions. She decided to seek help from the ARM Youth Welfare Society running street schools in the adjacent poverty stricken neighbourhood of Lyari. When the organization visited Humaira’s school, they were pleasantly surprised and impressed. Convinced of Humaira’s sincerity and infected by her positivity and motivation the organization arranged financial support from the Rotary Club, and Humaira was able to rent a space in the neighbourhood that she affectionately named the. “The Dream Model Street School.”

Things improved in her personal life as well. On a visit to her village in interior Sindh, she was informed that her uncle had purchased a plot of land. Being an inquisitive character, she convinced her uncle to show her the paperwork and map relating to the purchase. All it took was a cursory glance for her to realize that her uncle was being fraudulently given a smaller plot of land than what he had bargained for. When she brought this fact to her uncle’s attention, she was met with disdain and sarcasm- after all what is a woman supposed to know about these things which involve men. Undeterred she convinced her uncle to take her to the local land registry where she was proven right and the fraudulent transaction was exposed. At that moment, her father could not have been more proud as his daughter had proven herself to the same community which looked down upon her decision to study.

Meanwhile, news of Humaira’s endeavours reached the ears of a Shirkatgah, a nonprofit organization who were researching on women empowerment. They decided to document Humaira’s work. This documentary,titled, ”A Small Dream” was launched on 28 March, 2009, in Lahore at the South Asia Free Media Association, with Humaira, Tahira and Zainab Bibi attending. It was while watching this documentary itself that she realised what she had done and the impact it had in her community. She recalls watching the whole documentary with tears streaming down her face and in utter disbelief of what sheand her friends had achieved.

As word spread and her documentary was aired on television, organizations Like Engro Vopak, Orangi Pilot Project (OPP), Shirkat Gah, Behbud Association and Family Planning Association of Pakistan started supporting The Dream Foundation and this support remains to-date.

In 2007, Humaira as she says, “retired” from the school in order to earn a living and to be able to support her school and to try to pay some of the dedicated staff . She however remains as the President and is on the board of trustees of her trust. Her 19‐year old sister Tahira is now the principal. Humaira, since then has been offered a scholarship by the Lahore University of Management and Sciences, which she has declined to avail for now.

“If I leave now and abandon the children studying in my school, who will look after them?” she says matter of factly.

The Dream Model Street School currently has a staff of 22 teachers, aged between 13 and 24, who work for free and are active donors of the foundation itself. The school has by now imparted education to approximately two thousand students. Apart from regular studies, the school also provides computer classes, has a female literacy project, has an Islamic education class and conducts separate evening classes for children who work to earn a living in the day.

Humaira dreams of making her school a long ‐lasting institution by constructing a proper school building that will remain even when she is gone. An empty plot of land is available, but the young teachers need Pakistani Rupees 2,800,000 to purchase it.

The session was almost over and almost all the children and mentors sitting in the TCF Sumar Goth campus had questions brimming within us. One of the mentors’ asked Humaira as to why she had chosen to do all this when she could have joined the status quo like many of her peers. Her answer sent shivers down our spine. She told us that she had seen her female relative who was suffering from a stomach ache die after she was injected with medicine and a syringe meant for horses. She also told us of her little cousin who died because of eating expired medicine. Humaira believes that these deaths took place because of illiteracy and lack of common sense and awareness which can only be erased through education.

We have much to learn from Humaira, who has done the unthinkable in her community through her courage, motivation and the simple will to bring about a change. Where we talk about the problems faced by our country while sitting in our luxurious drawing rooms, she has actually translated all those thoughts into action despite the uncountable problems that she faces and we do not. She is the change in her community. At this tender age, she has a vision for this country- a vision that we all share. This is the time for us to join hands with Humaira, step out of our pseudo intellectual drawing room discourse, and bring about that change. Let us ensure that Humaira’s small dream becomes a reality and that it is not in fact one Model Street School that gets saved, but several such schools are constructed so that every street of our country is a dream come true.

Note:

You can find out about more about the Rahbar Program and the process to register as a volunteer here: http://www.thecitizensfoundation.org/docs/rahbar.pdf

To get linked with Ms. Bachal and help her in raising funds for her school, please write to:

Dream Foundation Trust, Muwach Goth Brohi Muhallah, Near Murshid Hospital, SUPARCO Road, Hub River Road, Keamari Town, Karachi, Pakistan.

Email: humaira-bachal@hotmail.com

Website: http://dreamfoundationtrust.weebly.com/index.html

To donate to the Dream Foundation Trust, please deposit donations in the following bank account:

DREAM Foundation Trust
A/c No. 09947100289003
Habib Bank Limited
Saeedabad Branch,
Karachi

To see Humaira’s documentary, click here: http://blip.tv/r4d/a-small-dream-2127432

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Categories: City Portraits

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16 Comments on “City Portraits – Humaira Bachal – The light of Moach Goth, Karachi.”

  1. Anjum Shaikh
    February 19, 2012 at 11:38 am #

    Assalam u alaikum,
    I’m the teacher of Humaira Bachal & her sister Tahira Bachal. I taught them like my sisters but the two sisters are very greedy and selfish. When ARM (an NGO) established a school In Brohi Mohalla they had no teachers, at that time, I helped & supported them to organize the school. In 2009, we together established a trust named “Dream Foundation Trust”, I was selected the President of the trust. In the early days, Ms Humaira kicked out our senior team member Mr. Nadeem Baig because he was an honest person. After sometimes when they realized that I’m a fair man & I wouldn’t give them the chances of corruption in the name of welfare. They thought a devilish plan & created such an atmosphere which I couldn’t bear. After 5 months they called a meeting, in which they said that “Shirkat Gah” is helping us to register our Trust and they said that if the President of our trust would be a female then Shirkat Gah can help you in this matter. I left the designation of President in the favor of the trust. When Ms Humaira selected the Chairperson, she made the trust “FAMILY NGO instead of FALAHI NGO”. She made the some such decisions which were not in the favor of our trust & people. With the cooperation of her friends & sister she became all in one a took some steps to increase the balance of her own account. She purchased the place for the school only in few lacs but she showed the bogus documents of Rs.45 lacs.
    In the lights of above facts it is requested that please avoid to help such kind of corrupted people becaused they are not working for the progress & welafare of the common man but they are filling their own pockets.

    • March 16, 2012 at 11:39 am #

      Ahsan raza

      Agreee with u Usman….

    • March 16, 2012 at 11:48 am #

      Respected anjum sheikh,

      I do not know who you are, because the person we knew had a name Latif Sheikh, the person who keeps on hiding his own reality can not tell the reality of others.
      Anyway we do not know that when you had a supporting role in Dream, we would like to inform you that before the Dream foundation Trust got registered a working committee was formed, and you were made the Head of it by Humair Bachal

      But it is very bad during that work you did not do anything, but your bad intentions kept coming into our notice.
      In the favor of the institution, we meaning I Usman Perhyar, Sohail Ahmed Rahi, Buksh Memon, Abdul Qayyoum, with mutual understanding decided that the Humair Bachal should be selected the President of the institution.
      And today we are very proud of this decision, because after the she became the president, Dream is standing on such a high position that nobody needs to be told about this.
      And who gave the Land to Dream for shool I would definitely tell this if a sensible person would have asked this, and there is a very humble request to you that please keep your dirty mind clean.
      So that with us you can spread the light of knowledge in Pakistan and specially in mowach through Dream.
      I hope that you have not disliked it, take some rest please,
      Your well wishers!

  2. Anjum Shaikh
    February 19, 2012 at 11:55 am #

    she is telling a lie about the teachers. There is no staff of 22 teachers in this school. She is showing the students who are studying and they are also teaching here. They all are not qualified and have no capability to teach. She is also not qualified (kindly check her educational certificates). I taught her when she was studying in Metric. After that she took admission in 1st year private & could not succeed (she failed in 2 papers). When I forbid her to fraud in the name of education she became angry with me.

  3. lyari.youth
    March 16, 2012 at 5:33 pm #

    I have read the comments of Mr. Anjuman Shaikh (Abdul Latif Shaikh). First thing can be noticed that he has hidden his real name “Abdul Latif Shaikh” and this attitude happens, when someone gives false statement. He quoted that ARM Child & Youth Welfare’s representatives contacted with him was also a fake statement, because I am the General Secretary of ARM Child & Youth Welfare and the first person who directly contacted with Humaira Bachal. I have also mentioned in Shirkat Gah’s Documentary “Small Dream” (see the links below):

    http://www.dfid.gov.uk/r4d/PDF/Outputs/WomenEmpMus/A-Small-Dream_brief.pdf

    He has never been the President of Dream Foundation Trust as per Dream documents. This is fact that he was the part of Dream Foundation Trust in 2009 and he was also aware that there was no fund in Dream Foundation Trust Accounts because, Humaira was running ARM Child & Youth Welfare’s project of “Street School Replication”, in which Rotary Club of Karachi Metropolitan Trust supported her in “Kinds” not in “Cash”.

    Mr. Latif Shaikh (Anjum Shaikh) is giving fake statement about funds of 45 Lac which can be challenged in the court and claim for damages.

    This is true that some like-minded people gathered and shared an Idea for an NGO, so that they could work for the education in the remote area of Muwach Goth, Keamari Town, but this is absolutely wrong statement that Dream Foundation is a family NGO. The Trustees/Board members are belonging to different areas and attached with different organizations by profession (see the link of facebook below).

    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Dream-Foundation-Trust/107057232706542

    http://www.dreamfoundationtrust.org

    http://www.dreamfoundationtrust.weebly.com

    Dream Foundation Trust is providing quality education in a remote area, charging Rs.30/- fee to each student. On the other hand Govt. schools are like empty boxes and the private schools have no quality education, just running for the business purpose. Mr. Latif Shaikh (Anjum Shaikh) is one of them who is running a private coaching centre charging Rs.300 to 500 hundred per subject. May be Dream Model Street School has become an obstacle for the people who are selling education to these poor people. This was the reason Mr. Latif Shaikh (Anjum Shaikh) has written such kind of statement.

    I am currently the part of Dream Foundation Trust and I was the first person who recognized Humaira Bachal’s efforts in Muwach Goth and highlighted & introduced her work to other organizations and individuals. I state that Mr. Latif is giving false statement regarding her work. The above links are self explanatory of her efforts.

    In view of the about fact, I would suggest Humaira Bachal, she will continue her work and not be worried about the false statements of such kinds of people. I also pray for Mr. Latif Shaikh he would get well soon.

    Sohail Ahmed Rahi
    http://www.facebook.com/sohailrahi

  4. Anonymous
    April 24, 2012 at 1:57 am #

    good work humera and usman bhai. my good wishs always with you and your staff

  5. Hasnain Hakro
    July 16, 2012 at 6:31 pm #

    good to see humaira at net. she is our neighbourer………….she is great!
    Hasnain Hakro

    • Abdul Hakeem
      October 12, 2012 at 8:12 pm #

      gud work GOD bless you

  6. November 5, 2012 at 3:42 pm #

    Will you please stop this shit. The whole world is reading.

    • November 11, 2012 at 4:06 pm #

      Excellent contribution to the society and community. The story of Anjum Sheikh or who ever he may be should not deter her it is again education not only education but proper education is vital and a guiding force for the socio-development of the country. Humaira and like her out in the main steam are candles of hope where dreams become true. All the best and keep it up without caring for such characters.
      Anwar Jabeen Qureshi. PP Rotary Club Karachi Airport.

      • February 15, 2013 at 4:08 pm #

        Why is there no aid Why is there no aid by saudi, iran, uae or any other islamic natinos Nor there is an active participation from islamic natinos to help pakisthan. Ameerica has not learned its lessons. They will burn down the american flag once pakis are over the flood effect..

  7. November 11, 2012 at 4:14 pm #

    Humaira Bachal—The light of Moach Goth, Karachi {} Where lights of hope and dreams come true. A step towards achievement and satisfaction.

  8. September 21, 2013 at 5:57 pm #

    i want meet you in facebook

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