Yet, we dont want giving up studies! ( Quraatul Ain )

Written By Khalid Irshad

While driving for over half of an hour on Shahra-i-Faisal, the main artery of the cosmopolitan city of Karachi, we passed by skyscrapers housing offices and apartments. The dusk was approaching and Athar Ejaz Qureshi was prudently steering his vehicle on a bumpy road.

On the roadside, I saw many Pushtoon people selling different articles on pushcarts. On my query, Athar Ejaz told me that we were in Banaris area, little short of Orangi Town. The Orangi Town, a hugely under-developed slum of Karachi, truly depicts the indifference and apathy of authorities concerned in providing basic amenities to its dwellers.

We were heading towards our destination a small house in Sector D-15 where proud Abdul Rashid had entered while joyfully displaying to everyone his eldest daughter Quraatul Ain matriculation result card on August 5 three years ago. Rashids daughter had cleared year 2000 annual examination by securing over 80 per cent marks in science group. Seeing the result card, however, the talented girl burst into tears, which caused little embarrassment to her parents. She was bemoaning as to why she could not secure any position in the board.

Quraatul Ain had an outstanding academic career. Without taking tuitions, she bagged first position continuously from Class I to Class VIII. She wanted to prepare herself for matriculation examination privately but her father was unable to finance her studies. Thats why this shinning girl could not secure any position in the board. But, her miseries had just begun now.

Despite bagging such excellent grades in matriculation, she could not get admission in any reputable institution, primarily owing to financial constraints and she could secure only 60 per cent marks in her F.Sc. examination. This is precisely how lack of resources ominously ruined the career of an intelligent student. She wanted to become a doctor four years ago but circumstances compelled her to take a simple teaching course that would just convert her into an earning hand so that she could support her younger siblings.

Like her elder sister, Noorul Ain is an equally brilliant and intelligent student. She also bagged top position from Class I to Class VIII. She also matriculated with 80 per cent marks but missed grabbing third position in the Karachi Board with a slightest margin, mainly owing to lack of proper guidance. Noorul Ain is now studying in Sir Syed College for Women, Karachi. Sometimes ago honorary copies of Urdu Digest were distributed among the students and faculty of that college under the auspices of Karwan-i-Ilm Foundation (KIF) which is established with an exclusive aim to harness every deserving student with knowledge.

After seeing an advertisement promising financial help to every needy student, Rashid wrote to the KIF narrating his financial position and the outstanding careers of his daughters. So, I reached Rashids house in a bid to know more about them. Flanked by Rashid, we entered his makeshift house. A tin sheet largely made the roof of two small rooms, having no doors or windows.

Only rundown curtains protected the dwellers from cold and hot weather. We were asked to be seated in a room and in front of us stood a cupboard displaying prize shields and commendation certificates bagged by Rashids children. Soon entered two delicate girls Quraatul Ain and Noorul Ain followed by their mother Rukhsana Bano, younger brother Muhamamd Yasin and their younger sisters Faiza and Sweera.

I asked Rashid to sum up his story of life. He said: We are Bihari (migrants); at the time of inception of Pakistan, my parents migrated from Bihar to Dhaka. My parents were illiterate; they started living in Muhammad Pur area of Dhaka and started business of selling milk to meet their both ends. We are four siblings; and I am at number three. In 1971, when separatist Bengalis started committing atrocities against West Pakistani and Bihari families, I took refuge in Kallu Camp.

In 1974, I shifted to my brother-in-laws house in Karachi. In 1971, I was student of first year, and the unrest spoiled three of my academic years. My brother-in-law took responsibilities of my studies and after graduation in 1977, I got employment in Pakistan Jute Factory. In 1980, my parents also shifted to Karachi. This area in Orangi Town was lying vacant at that time and poor people would occupy some pieces of land to build their temporary houses. We also constructed a makeshift house here.

I got married in 1984 and started leading a contented life. When God almighty gifted us with children, I and my wife decided that we would properly educate them even if we could not provide them other luxuries of life. So, it was our goal to make our offspring brilliant and intelligent so that they might not face the miseries we had faced in our life.

We wanted to send our children to reputable schools and they deserved to be educated at finest schools of the city owing to their brilliance and intelligence, however our limited resources prevented this dream from coming true. My wife also started working to contribute to childrens educational expenses. We are thankful to our God Almighty that despite living in a ramshackle house our children performed remarkably in their studies.

Both of my elder daughters are not satisfied despite having secured 80 per cent marks in their matriculation exams. I had my leg fractured in an accident in 1995, that confined me to bed for long time and thereafter I was sacked owing to prolonged absence from duties. Since then, I have not been able to pay electricity bill, which has now swollen up to Rs24,000.

I remained unemployed for about two years that turned me completely overdrawn. I would never be able to forget that period of poverty and haplessness. Despite, I was unable to pay my childrens fee for months but because they always stood first in their classes they were able to earn the pleasure and trust of school managements. I think the excellent performance of my children is an outcome of their excellent training done by my wife and owing to her constant encouragement our children indeed progressed well in their academic careers.

When I asked Rukhsana Bano as to how she brought her children up in such a magnificent manner, she said: My parents always focused on imparting studies, especially to girls and believed that an educated woman can better bring her children up. So, I always encouraged my children, especially daughters, to work with more dedication and devotion to excel in their academics. When I thought that my husbands salary (Rs4,100) was not adequate to run the house and meet the educational expense of five children, I also decided to work as a lady health worker. Now, I earn Rs:1,400 per month. However, as our children are going to higher classes, we both are finding it harder to fulfill their basic needs and educational expenditures.

Our eldest daughter Quraatul Ain is very intelligent, however, she could not continue her educational journey owing to our paltry income. Our only son, Muhammad Yasin, is in Class IX. He has also done excellently throughout his academic career by securing up to 90 per cent marks in each class. His performance has always pleased us, but what hurts us is our insufficient income that might shatter our dreams to send him to a standard college for higher studies.

When I asked Quraatul Ain to shed light on her achievements and future plans, she said: I was very fond of studying since my childhood. My biggest dream was to become a doctor which is now unlikely to come true. I bagged good grades in matriculation, though I had endeavored to clinch a position in the board. I could not get admission in any reputable college in F.Sc (pre-medical). Besides that F.Sc syllabus was challenging, my parents were unable to pay for my tuitions so that I could have prepared myself for the most competitive examination.

However, I worked hard according to best of my faculties but could secure only 60 per cent marks. I wanted taking medical entry test, but my father told me that it would be a futile exercise as he would not be able to finance her expensive studies. This was how I abandoned my desire to become a doctor along with urge to continue studies. You could have done a B.Sc, I quipped.

I had always dreamt of becoming a doctor. What could I have done by graduating or even doing masters in any discipline other than medicine and surgery? The fact that I would no more be studying medical subjects had frustrated me too much to switch over to any other discipline. After some time, I decided to contribute to my parents income to run the household and support my younger siblings and, therefore, I got admission in CT course. Upon completion, this course will help me find a teaching job to serve my family according to my capacity, dejected Quraatul Ain said.

If you are provided financial resources, do you think you still have the capability of becoming a doctor? I asked. She replied: Though I have abandoned studying science subjects for the past one year, still I think I will be able to complete my M.B.B.S if provided resources. Then Noorul Ain also shared with us her ambitions to become a doctor too. She is currently a student of F.Sc.

She said: I have to face a great deal of inconvenience in pursuing my studies as limited resources of my parents scarcely fulfill my educational needs. Despite securing high grades in matriculation, the board dismissed my application for grant of scholarship. Reading the KIFs advertisement regarding financial assistance of intelligent and needy students in Urdu Digest had created a hope in my mind that contrary to my elder sisters, my dream to become a doctor may become true.

The interaction with these brilliant siblings highlighted their dedication to get higher studies but at the same time exposed their vulnerability owing to poverty.

A compassionate philanthropist might come forward to adopt these students, however, the KIF will not leave them in a lurch and thats precisely why this organization was founded. To help every needy and deserving student with available resources is the basic objective ahead of this organization.