In honor of International Women’s Day, we are sharing an interview of one our former students conducted by Syeda Sarah Mehdi, a volunteer. We are proud to say that we have a 40% female enrollment rate at our primary and secondary education schools. In Pakistan specifically, 80% of our 102 students at our college are female. Below we share the story of Bushra, the first student of our DREAMS school in Pakistan to actively pursue an MBBS degree. Bushra began attending Hamdard Medical University in February 2020. Half of her university tuition and fees is paid using Thaakat funds.
Bushra’s family lives in the slums of New Karachi, right behind the main campus of Idara Al-Khair. Her parents have been blessed with eight daughters and a son. Normally in a city like Karachi, where bills are hard to pay, resources are scarce and “a girls honor” is a constant topic of discussion. Families are often felt burdened with the weight of what culture calls a girl’s “izzat” or reputation. Bushra lives with her family in a three bedroom house with a kitchen and varied electricity supply. Her father is a bird seller and has a shop near their home. The purpose of this interview is to take a deeper look into this family and better understand the magic that made Bushra as resilient and as remarkable as she is.
Throughout their life, Bushra and her sisters have attended school at Idara Al-Khair (DREAMS). While most South Asian mothers have a very domestic role in mind when it comes to their daughters in Pakistan, Bushra’s mother, Fatima is different. She too had several sisters and a single brother growing up. Seeing how her brother was the only one afforded opportunities like school and a career, she realized that this mentality held her and her sisters back. While her brother, Bushra’s uncle, was never able to fulfill his father’s dream of becoming a doctor, Fatima decided that all her daughters would have as much of a chance at their dreams as her son.
This resulted in all her daughters attending school. The eldest is currently married and has completed a BA degree, the youngest is currently admitted as a seventh grader at Idara Al-Khair. All eight of Fatima’s daughters are obtaining education. Her second daughter went to DHMS, the third daughter has finished her M. Com, and the fourth daughter has completed her intermediate studies at Idara Al-Khair. Bushra’s four eldest sisters are not only educated but married and settled in their homes. Fatima, her mother, is grateful for their education, not only because it provides them opportunity for economic growth but because it gave them skills and proposals that they would otherwise not have. With these role models in mind, Bushra and her sisters, who are still studying, are now much more optimistic with bigger dreams and choices regarding their careers.
Bushra is a charming girl who is constantly working on herself, a quality that is unique no matter which part of the city you are from. She draws, sews, and is of course excelling in her academics. Her mother has always dreamt that one of her children would enroll in an MBBS degree- and Bushra is up for that challenge. But her journey has not been easy. While her mother has always tried to make things as comfortable as possible, with a full-house and so little space to work, Bushra has had to face multiple obstacles to get her work done. She has missed family gatherings to study, stopped helping in the house, and at times even had to resort to studying in the light of a candle. Despite all this, she remains positive as she looks to the future, admiring her principal and hoping that Idara Al-Khair will continue to help her achieve her dreams.
It’s not uncommon to hear of the average middle-class student struggling with their workload and their academics. One can only imagine how much more difficult it must be when financial difficulties pose as a constant obstacle. When Bushra completed her intermediate studies, she faced various issues; for one, she was unable to secure an admission for an MBBS degree and feared her intermediate grades were not up to par. A lot of students settle for their second priority and Bushra too had offers to enroll in pharmacy or physiotherapy. However, she decided that she would not lose hope and went on to take a gap year to reapply for admission in MBBS. During this gap year, she also repeated one subject for her intermediate, in efforts to improve her overall grade; she succeeded in doing so.
Despite the obstacles and barriers she faced, Bushra was able to fulfill both her and her mother’s dream and now begins her journey to becoming a doctor. While this may come off as a simple success story of a poor child beating her circumstances, it is a lot more than that. Educational charities are constantly working to try and improve the lifestyles of the communities they help, even if it’s by a little. There is a lot to be said for the support of her family and the affect that her story will have on the community surrounding them. Not every child grows up to be as brilliant or as dedicated as Bushra. Bushra deserves recognition and continued support for her efforts. Idara Al-Khair hopes to see more children achieve their goals and is forever working towards a society that can nurture young minds better.
Happy International Women’s Day! We hope Bushra’s story inspires you to empower women. Learn how you can sponsor a student today for just $25 here.