TEACHERS – Jagir Basin – The Family of Raja Mir Afzal Lambardar of Jagir Basin
In one of the remote areas of Gilgit District, upper Jagir Basin, live the semi-nomadic Gujars. Traditionally working as cattle farmers, these Gujar communities migrate between summer and winter pastures with their animals, earning hand to mouth livelihood. Due to poverty and this struggle to earn hand to mouth livelihood, education has been the least priority for them, nor did they have resources to pursue studies.
When Alight Pakistan and National Commission for Human Development teams came to the area and identiﬁed Ishpetdass as one of its potential villages, to establish a community school the biggest obstacle turned out to be lack of qualiﬁed people who could teach. There wasn’t identiﬁed anyone available in the village with matriculation certiﬁcate who could act as a non-formal school teacher. And because of its remote location there was no teacher from neighboring villages ready to come to Ishpetdass to work there.
Unable to ﬁnd a solution, Alight team contacted local leader – Raja Mir Afzal Lambardar (headman) of Jagir Basin, and requested his help. Raja Sahab – an inﬂuential man with great personality, was very excited about the prospect of providing access to education for out of school children of the region, especially the Gujar community. He assured to arrange a qualiﬁed teacher and asked Maria Bano, his daughter-in-law to take the responsibility if possible. Maria bano was working as a qualiﬁed teacher on a well-paid position in a private school then, however agreed to be part of this noble cause and left that job to join this school as Non-formal teacher. Since the distance from Maria’s house and the village of Ishpetdass was about 5 km via rough road, Raja Mir Afzal provided his private car to take Maria from home to school and back.
This way ﬁnally a school for the Gujar Community of village Ishpetdass was established. Soon, another Gujar community from the village of Warza approached Alight’s Gilgit team with a request for non-formal school in their village. And again, the problem of qualiﬁed teacher was found. This time Raja Sahab was part of the school founding team and realizing the situation, he assigned this noble task to his son Raja Naveed – a well-educated and successful businessman, who agreed to manage his time and serve as NFS teacher to this other school established in Warza.
With the help of these two schools, around 120 boys and girls of Gujar community, are part of a schooling system right now, who were previously unable to go to any school. The support of Raja Mir sb. in opening and running these two schools is tremendous as not only he extended support during its establishment but also encourages their son and daughter-in-law to continue their service irrespective of any challenges. Raja sb. and his wife take care of their granddaughter at home while Maria and Naveed continue teaching in non-formal schools. Naveed drops Maria at Ishpetdass and heads towards the school in Warza and they travel back home together. Communities of both villages are very happy, and their hearts are ﬁlled with hope for better future.