An ordinary girl, an offshoot of a strict patriarchal social system with an ‘unruly’ dream to conquer the world with her pen and book, might sound cliché; however, meeting an epitome of strength and courage in flesh and bone is pleasantly unsettling and doubtlessly inspiring. The way her eyes twinkled, while she shared her story of shattering the glass-ceiling was admirable.
Asma, now 26, was a street child and would probably have ended up begging, had it not been for the HDF’s Mardan team, which visited her home to educate her mother about the non-formal school operated by HDF near her home. During that time, Asma’s father was a grade four employee in the government department of Agriculture with a very meager income. Being a female child in a big family of nine, with below the average living standards, Asma’s mother enrolled her in one of the HDF’s non-formal schools in Fazal Abad Manga. For fear of Asma’s father not permitting her to enroll Asma in a formal government school because of the additional burden of expenses on the household budget, her mother preferred HDF’s low-cost non-formal school. Realizing how ruthless the social and financial constraints were for her, HDF Mardan team went an extra mile by providing the pick and drop facilities to her for the school and the regular updates of her progress at school to her parents, so that the family was aware of their daughter’s academic success.
It was only after Asma passed all her grades with excellent scores through the primary levels at the local HDF School, that her father couldn’t resist her admission in the high school. Her mother, recalling HDF’s support during their family’s dark times, said, “HDF gave Asma a strong foundation to base her education on. I will be thankful to HDF for life”.
Asma is currently a science teacher in The Peshawar Model School after graduating with a degree in Biotechnology. She explained how she shares her lessons of overcoming the social and economic constraints with her students, and urges them to follow their dreams as she did. While reminiscing her excitement as a child to join school, she told HDF how she still cherishes the memories of her friends and supportive teachers from the school of HDF.
Although, her life has not given her the deserved level of comfort yet (she has to travel 50km daily to earn Rs.17,000 per month); she is still determined to achieve her dreams of doing Ph.D. in Biotechnology. Asma is proud to be another breadwinner for her family, and she is thankful to take some of that burden from her father.