Brimming with talent, self-assured, assertive, modest, and resilient that’s what I found out when I first met the young kids of Thar. They can astound you with their immense confidence and win your hearts with their courteous attitude. Unlike our urban kids, they love the company of elders and like to spend quality time with them. They don’t have tablets, mobile or other tech accessories instead they kill their time by getting indulged in old-fashioned games, like chasing, running, or practicing their favorite sports. On my recent visit to Thar, I met some incredible kids with inspiring struggle stories. They may be the residents of an underdeveloped region or belong to a minority group with little or absolutely no privileges but they are people with big dreams and dare to achieve them.
Dhabo – A passionate footballer
We were invited to female Mach Kachehri in Mansingh Bheel where I saw a young girl continuously staring at me as if she had something interesting to say. Striking the conversation, I asked her about her interests and hobbies. The 18-year-old Dhabo is a student in Grade 9 at Thar Foundation School. She was in Grade 5 when she had to leave school after her father’s demise. Seeing her potential Manager Education for Thar Foundation Sabeen Shah encouraged her to continue her education.
“We are seven sisters and two brothers. When my father died a couple of years ago I had to leave school because I had to look after my younger siblings when my mother went out to find food for us. When I saw other girls going to school I also had the desire to join them but we didn’t have money for it. When Sabeen ma’am came to our village she asked me to join the school. Today, I am a student in Grade 9 and it all happened because of her,” Dhabo told us.
Dhabo’s life got changed at Thar Foundation School as she got a chance to recognize her inner talent of being a sportswoman. Inclining sports, she joined the school’s football team and became its captain too. She represented her school at the All Sindh Football tournament held in Thar a couple of years ago. “We got a one-month football training at school before participating in the tournament. It was a wonderful experience,” she excitedly said.
The passionate footballer wanted that all the other girls of her village should also follow their dreams. “During our spare time we play football here in the desert and I tell all my fellows that they can also achieve their dreams if play with conviction and sincerity,” the young football captain said.
Ranjhan – THe ‘Jew of Thar’
At Mach Kachehri there was another young fellow who grabbed my attention. He was adding wood to the fire to keep it in a kindling state when Sabeen Shah introduced him calling the ‘Jew of Thar’.
A student in Grade 5, Ranjhan is the brightest student of TFS with an unbeatable academic record. The guy has something that instantly pulled your attention. He was talking to strangers with utmost confidence, His body language revealed his resolute stance. His drive to succeed in the spotlight was clear in his words and actions when we spoke. Although we didn’t know him, he made it impossible for us to believe that we were conversing with a child who lacked even the most fundamental essentials.
He explained the design of their mud homes, saying that it was done so that rain would fall gently without getting inside. Even after I got back home, I couldn’t shake the good aura the guy gave off. He is a living testament to the idea that if you are willing to succeed and put forth the necessary effort, nothing can stop you from realizing your dreams.
Asiya – An ambitious girl from a small town
The 18-year-old girl, Asiya, gave us a warm welcome when we arrived in Mach Kachehri. She is a wonderful example of how age is not a barrier to education. Asiya, a Grade 9 student, wasn’t fortunate enough to start school at the appropriate age. Her family struggled to make ends meet due to their meager financial resources. In 2017, when the Thar Foundation School opened in Islamkot, she was the institution’s first female student from her village.
As the school was at a distance from her home, she had to commute on foot to reach there. Since her father wasn’t happy he stopped her from going to school. Asiya got upset as learning at school was entirely a different experience and she missed it a lot. One day she heard about the training program for rickshaw drivers initiated by Thar Foundation in collaboration with Human Development Foundation. She got enrolled in it along with her father.
After receiving a license, they later devised a plan to get their very own Qingqi rickshaw. She now utilizes the rickshaw to transport her sisters and friends to and from school and her father uses it to make money. “The young woman said with delight, “When I’m driving a rickshaw, I feel like I’m flying.”
Published by Mag The Weekly, 06 Jan, 2023 by Wajiha Jawaid