Creating a Difference Converting Passion into Profession – Maria Bano – Village Jagir Baseen, Gilgit Baltistan, Pakistan

Creating a Difference Converting Passion into Profession – Maria Bano Resident of the village Jagir Baseen in district Gilgit, Maria Bano, after completing her graduation wanted to contribute to the education of local children but did not have the requisite resources to do so. Her husband, Raja Naveed Iqbal, too wanted to see the children of the area get education and excel in life, but he too was compelled to stifle his dreams due to lack of resources to open and run a school.

In July 2020, Alight’s Literacy Mobilizers visited the nearby villages of Ishpitdass Jagir Baseen and Farooqabad Warza Jagir Baseen for the establishment of non-formal schools as there was enough number of out-of-school children in both the villages.

Village Education Committees were formed in both the villages, which identified the OOSC in in collaboration with National Commission for Human Development (NCHD) – the implementing partner of Alight. Through its donor Central Asia Institute, Alight has been helping more children and particularly girls to attend school while working with the government and local communities to create child-friendly schools in Gilgit-Baltistan.

As there was no teacher available in both the villages, the LMs and VECs members were able to contact Maria Bano and her husband Raja Naveed Iqbal, who agreed to render their services to teach the children.

Maria Bano was appointed teacher in Ishpitdass Jagir Baseen and her husband Raja Naveed Iqbal was appointed teacher in Farooqabad Warza Jagir Baseen. Ishpitdass Jagir Baseen and Farooqabad Warza Jagir Baseen are located in different directions (about two to three kilometer) of Jagir Baseen — the native village of Maria Bano and her husband Raja Naveed Iqbal.

But, once both the schools were established and OOSC enrolled, the distance could not diminish the spirits of both the spouses. Raja Naveed Iqbal daily provides pick and drop services to his wife to Ishpitdass Jagir Baseenand besides regularly imparting teaching to the students in Farooqabad Warza Jagir Baseen. There are about 70 children who have been enrolled in various grades in Ishpitdass Jagir Baseen.

Maria is very hardworking and exuberant teacher, who completed her Master’s Degree during her job. Maria and her husband are quartering her all their efforts to uplift the lives of children of the area through provision of quality education. Whatever the contingencies encountered by them, their passion has helped overcome them.

Sometimes landslides block the roads but they manage to reach their respective schools on feet so that the children do not suffer any educational loss. Besides teaching to the children, Maria also helps the local community females to get learning.

“We want to see the children of our area get education. Our communities have little financial resources but these non-formal schools are no less than a blessing for their children,” Maria and her husband say, adding that Alight, its donors and implementing partners are transforming the lives of hundreds of thousands of the children in one of the most difficult regions of Pakistan.