Posted to Sister Zeph’s Journal
By Sister Zeph
On 25 August, 2014
My dear Teacher today I want to tell you something about a girl who was your student at Government high school She was a very naught girl. She was a leader in the school, she wanted to be a lawyer, she wrote her first article on women’s rights at the age of 13 in a very famous news paper called daily Jung of Pakistan, and she was a dreamer and wanted to fly real high. Her life style was a different one; she always wanted to explore what was different. Her mother, like every mother in her country, used to tell her that one day she would get married. She always kept thinking, that no – God has not sent her in this world only to get married. Her heart always told her that it wasn’t so. She was very sensitive; one incident changed her life forever. She left her school in 7th grade and decided never go back to that school again. Her heart felt so humiliated, she cried for many days. She wanted to die and she did not want to see anyone for days. She felt like her heart was dying inside her. One day, she was delivering a speech to her class, acting like a teacher. She was standing on your chair. When you came you started beating her for this, in front of her classmates. You abused her and all girls made fun of her. She was just crying and crying, she was hurt mentally and psychologically. She decided to surprise them all. She decided to do something that nobody expected. At that moment she decided to leave school. All at once life changed, and all dreams were over. Her parents tried to force her to join any other school but she did not. But she never stopped studying. She started reading in her home privately, she never took any tuition. And along with this she decided to teach girls with respect, and love and care that she was not given in her school. She started making home visits in her village. She made pamphlets to distribute among people. She told everyone that it will be free education; she walked even further, and went to tell about her school in the nearby villages to convince the people to send their girls to her school. She told them that she would teach them English for free. She started visiting people with her mother on every Sunday, but no one was ready. It was funny for the people around her, no one trusted her and no one was ready to join her school because she was just 13 years old. But she kept going, she did not want any child to experience that what had happened to her. She decided that she will never use a stick in her school, and that she would make education interesting for the children. In beginning there was only one student, she started it in open air and still there was no building till 2013, not even one room, and there was no pen, no note book and she only had a few books. In summer they were used to sit under the sun, in winter they were used to sit under blankets. And when it rained they had to leave the studies. Their roof was the sky that sometimes gave them normal weather so that they could study in open air, and sometimes not.
At age sixteen she did her matriculation and started a job as a receptionist in a telecom franchise, where she was being paid 15$ a month and this was the amount that she started using to by stationary and other important things for her school. Since then she had gone on working. She did masters in Political science in 2010, and now she is doing another Masters in History. All this education she got without any institution or any teacher.
Till now, she has taught about 600 girls, she has five centers now. The Women learning center: with twenty students, to teach stitching, embroidery and other soft skills. Formal Education: with one hundred students English language course: with 15 girls. Computer Center with ten students, and Beauty Salon Training Center with 10 students and this entire she does as a volunteer and provides all services free of charge. She is also doing a job in a bigger organization for her students and for herself, she is an Admin of World Wide women‘s community page, she admin her own page Zephaniah free Education, she writes blogs for a few websites on the issues women are facing in her part of the world. She is still studying; she is learning journalism from the World Pulse and World Wide Women. And she produces theatrical info-dramas in her community to give them messages of peace and respect for women, and on importance of education. Her teams are her family, and her coworkers in her office always give her moral support to carry on. And her very kind and loving friends on the face book are giving her opportunities to explore her ideas. In her part of the world (she says) we need to work on improving education. It is just the beginning of my work I have done so far. Here in my part of the world women have to suffer all their life, they are being tortured mentally and physically they are not being given education, they are not empowered, and child marriage and honor killing needs to be put to an end. When I look at the condition and helplessness of the women, it gives me the spirit to go ahead, to never stop, just to keep going. I know there is only one solution to all our problems, and that is education and awareness of our rights. I want every girl to be educated, empowered and protected, and for this I will keep struggling throughout my life. Dear Teacher Sajida do you know who was that girl? that was me Rifat Arif, I was your student in grade 7th in the year of 1997, and today I want to say you thanks for all the humiliation and beating and all the dirty language you used for me, if you would not have done all that, I was not suppose to change hundreds of lives, thanks a lot my dear Teacher.