Today, I am starting with a story of a little girl and about her courage! Story is from a city in North-West region of Pakistan called Swat Valley. The area is still under partial control of Taliban. Society there always lives under threat of bloodshed and murder. You are not supposed to walk openly in market, because pressure is mounted in your head; terrorist may appear any moment and will shoot you. Bomb blasts are as frequent as we get SMS. Pakistan military is struggling in peace keeping actions and eliminating insurgent activities. Taliban wanted to rule in that area, wanted to see people under threat. That’s all! Their Best strategy is to stop education and schools providing education. So, that they can dictate them on their orders. Especially, Girls are absolutely not allowed to go to school. It’s a fatwa. They think, “Women deprived of education, unable to read and write will live in kitchen. They will cook, sweep and wash. And finally can be easily abused in night. It’s dream of Taliban.
It was a month of October 2012, Taliban shook the city with couple of major bomb blasts. War broke out. People were scared to send their kids to school. Here comes a courageous girl on day of 8, October, 2014. With her desire to learn, She is determined that she will go to school. She walks out of house early morning. She is not in uniform to disguise her from being student. She was on her way to school, and two terrorists with half masked faces, fired twice towards her. One bullet went straight through left side of her head, passed besides the brain and came out of eardrum. Girl just bowed down her head, not realizing she has been shot. She then collapsed with head and body swelling. She was moved quickly towards hospital. She was going to die. She remained in coma few days. Doctors surprised saying, “How did she survive. Insha Allah, its miracle! She has courageous heart.” She said, “I don’t want fancy classroom, university. I want education wherever possible even under the tree!” This girl called Malala Yusufazai has made revolution. She is now speaking for 31 million girls around world for their basic right of education.
So, Coming back in India, even though there is no terrorism here, many hurdles and problems have sapped literacy rate. India’s economy is growing- rich and prosperous. Every day, we are looking at new constructions, flyovers, skyrocketing building, and inflation that results in growing prices of food products. People at below poverty line cannot afford for anything more than food. So, there is no question of education.
You might have experienced this many times. You are driving a car. On signals, you see children with torn clothe, or half naked tapping window pane to sell handicrafts. They will even wipe your window glass for few pennies. Such children are everywhere in all cities. Cheap labor is growing. Poverty is reason. Children in very young age join workforce to earn bread and butter and make a living. Low level workers are giving birth children just as to get help in their daily work.
According to 2011 census, 18% males and 35% female population is still illiterate. Economist did survey of rural areas in India, half of 10 year old children in rural India cannot read at basic level. 9.6 million Children don’t go to schools. Out of 100 children, 15 never attended schools. Those who attended, half of those will be dropped out after 10th. To change the grim picture is challenge in front of all of us.
Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world”. Now time has come. We are just by chance are well educated. We can make a difference by helping our fellow Indians to see better future. They also have dream and ambitions. If vehicle has stopped working with lack of fuel; we can add some and make it run.
We have got an opportunity while working here to make a difference. Asha Deep Foundation is providing employability skills to young underprivileged people living in most parts of Pune. Similar program is successfully running in Noida and Chennai. Through this Programme nearly 700+ young children from under-privileged backgrounds have been trained in computer skills and spoken English. And 60% of them have got jobs. It is said, “If you give one a fish, you save him for a day; if you tell how to fish, you save his life.” This is dictum Asha Deep is following.
I have visited school once. Children are so hungry to learn. I haven’t seen such picture before. It’s really energizing and vibrant picture. Their eagerness to learn will motivate you. All of us can join this program and spend half a day to teach at YEP center. I would strongly urge you to spread message among your colleagues as well !
Thanks You !
Time: 7 minutes, 17 secs.