Whenever I speak to Mamaians – the alumni of Mama Parsi School – I notice a hint of pride in their eyes for their association with Mama Parsi School. In today’s Karachi, with its decaying institutions, it is a rare gesture which speaks volumes about quality of the school and the values it has inculcated in its students.
Parsis make an important part of social fabric of Karachi. Most of the Parsi families migrated to Karachi around mid of 18th century and immediately made their mark on the landscape of then fast growing city. One of the earliest buildings commissioned by Parsis were that of ‘Balak Shala’ – school for children – in 1859. The unmatchable generosity of Parsis is well documented and again it was mainly through donations that the school was built and run. The ‘Balak Shala’ has transformed into an institution of highest quality today, known popularly as Bai Virbaijee Soparivala Parsi School on Abdullah Haroon Road. This is where Mama Parsi School was conceptualized originally.
With growing enrollment of girls around turn of 19th century, the elders of Parsi community decided to set aside funds for a separate girls school. Again it was magnanimity of Parsi community which made it possible to build a magnificent school on a prime location. The school was named after Khan Bahadur Ardeshir H. Mama who donated generously for the construction of school. Other notables who funded generously include the Trustee of Late Seth N N Pochaji and the Eduljee Dinshaw Family.
I reach the school building on a Saturday morning. The first thing that catches my attention is impressive facade of the building. This is the thing with the people and buildings of yore. The commitment, vision and generosity of Karachi’s founders made it possible for Karachi to sustain millions of souls for times to come. Even when they built something out of charity, they made it world class, a beauty to behold, an inspiration for generations to come. So is the case with Mama Parsi School!
The pillars in front of reception and the side hall add to the impressive facade. The reception area takes your breath away. The windows, the staircases, the well manicured plants and the furniture match the overall aesthetics of the building. As I walk its corridors I saw an army of staff, cleaning the entire place diligently. The pride with which students associate themselves with the school transcends to its staff also.
Many a schools were built later in the city but people still prefer to send their daughters to Mama Parsi School despite obvious issues associated with its location on a road which transpired to be the busiest thoroughfare in the city. So much was the demand for admissions that a separate wing was added in 1991. From grandmothers to grand daughters, Mama Parsi has played pivotal role in educating generations of Karachi women and while doing so they have maintained highest standards of learning.
As Mama Parsi turns a century old soon, I can only imagine the pride that the founders of the school would have felt at the role it has played in the lives of Karachi Wallas.