A post by one of TCF Norway’s board members, Sadaf Balouch, on her recent visit to a TCF School in Pakistan.
Seeing the car going through one of the best residential area of Lahore, I could not help asking my tour guide, Sadaf Rehman, “where are we heading ?” She replied smilingly, “I can see why are you asking this ,many of us aren’t aware of it but there exists a slum outside defense housing authority and I am taking you to TCF School built there”. One of the most looked forward task on my wish list during my trip to Pakistan as visiting a TCF school. It was pretty ironic to see the car entering a slum situated at the helm of a posh settlement. This slum was no different than the many other but the school building was not something we will find in all the slums. We arrived at the spacious building built in red bricks.
This was my first ever visit to purpose built school for the under-priviledged in Pakistan and I went there with some skepticism but I was pleasantly surprised at seeing this spacious and clean purpose built school. The school had two floors and we went to primary section first which was on first floor.I was introduced to a friendly principal who showed us around the school.
We started our tour from the playground where students from 5th class were playing some game in a big circle. In every class, I saw children dressed in clean uniform and having curiosity in their eyes. In class two, children were learning about feelings and expressions. Teacher asked how do you express being happy, a cute little boy with big eyes showed it through a big smile. At this, I couldn’t help asking him. “what makes you happy?” I was expecting to hear playing, toys,ice-cream or chocolates in answer but he said, “coming to school makes me happy” At this I turned to teacher and said surprisingly, “wow! children are really happy here!” She added, “ you need to remember that almost all of these children came from a tough background and in school, they get the only chance to be children. ”
In secondary section, I got opportunity to chat with girls from 8th grade. One of the girls told me her ambition to become a fashion designer though her parents would like it better if she becomes a doctor. I was impressed to see her speaking her mind with clarity and admired it because I am well aware that children and specially girls are supposed to even choose the profession by their parents’ decision in Pakistan.
My visit was culminated by a presentation about how a TCF school contributes to community beyond giving education to children. The school has recently got an enormous water filter plant for the community which can be used to get clean drinking water after school hours. The school building is also productively used in evenings- school provides basic education to women living in neighborhood. Most of these women are mothers of the children coming to school. This education enables them to do basic calculation and some reading and writing.
Driving back home, my heart was full gratitude and resolve – gratitude for the blessings of life we have and for being part of TCF Norway; resolve to help more children to experience that happiness of being a child as that wide-eyed boy from class 2nd and enable more girls to achieve that independent thinking just like that determined girl of class 8th.