Unleash the power of knowledge
Every day heading towards where they hang out Persian lessons, Nida Fatima and Chabahat Fatima passs through the near area Dal Lake and would see children playing. Soon they come to know that the area has a lower literacy rate and most children are dropped out of school. Some of them go to work while others are just hanging out.
Nida, an engineering student, said: “People there were less exposed to education than in other regions. As students, we wanted to help them and we thought the best way to help them was to educate them.
It was in 2018 when they established a library near Dal Lake in one of the rented halls. The library named Imam-i-Mehdi library has a collection of books, references and notes dealing with various subjects for students from 8and at 10and Standard.
“I spoke to my friends and they then spoke to their friends and relatives and that’s how we formed a network and collected some 300 to 400 books for the library,” she added.
As in any other library, the rule for students was to take a book and pick it up after reading it. A student database was also managed.
As the message spread, more and more people started to join the duo and the group now has 5 active members who work hard to educate children. Ayman Bashir, Naveed Abbass and Mohammad Waseem from different fields joined the duo.
Ayman is pursuing studies in the field of architecture, Naveed is is pursuing engineering studies and Mohammad is Do Bachelor of Business Administration.
The main objective of the group was to accommodate students of 8and at 12and Standard. Many career orientation sessions, talent hunt sessions and robotics workshops were organized for the children to expose them to the new world.
“These are the crucial years when a student comes to know what to do in the future. The children have been exposed to a lot of things so they can know what is going on around,” she said.
During the talent hunt sessions, the students class 8and at 10and received general aptitude tests including basic science and mathematics questions. The best students received prizes to boost their confidence.
As classes had moved to online mode due to the Covid pandemic, the group took the opportunity to reach more students.
“We started creating Whatsapp groups and zoom links and we also had the idea of creating a website. We managed to create a website where we displayed the best possible material for children. We have kept e-books related to all subjects. We also kept some novels, so it’s a library in its own right,” she said.
It took the group 3-4 months to work on the website. The website also offers video lectures. Local tuition centers and renowned teachers were also consulted and their study materials were also uploaded with their permission.
“When students search for speakers on YouTube, they get a lot of things and often don’t know what to study, so we already have the best ones for them on the website. We also paid tribute to the creators who created the content,” Nida said.
The website is being improved to make it more accessible to students. “The website is in its early stages and we are trying to improve it in the future,” she added.
Nida who leads the math and science quiz session said that during exam periods, the group organized several sessions frequently while during the pre-exam weekly sessions are held outraged give students time for self-study as well.
Currently, 200 to 300 students are directly connected to the group. “There may also be a number of students virtually connected to us that we know nothing about. Currently, students are coming from other parts of Srinagar and also from Baramulla,” she said.
The group also puts students in touch with resource people and experts to interact and guide them.
“We act as an intermediary between the donor and the receiver. As Ayman saw me working in a library and collecting books which inspired her to join us, so many people are working with us remotely,” Nida said.
The journey was not easy for them. Changing the mindset of the people of the region was a huge task. “Initially, the locals were interested in the wonders our children would do, but we didn’t impose things on them, rather we involved the children and their parents in the learning process. They learned that there was a need for education, redefining their thoughts and ideas,” she said.
Another team goal was to instill in children a sense of giving back. “We the people cannot reach all areas where literacy is low. We have taught the children that they can continue to defend the cause before and help those in need and the chain should continue,” she added.
The idea of helping others leaves children dohnotaalso their books once they have passed the exams.
“When I was a teenager, I thought money was important to help people. Growing up, I realized that education is something that can change lives. In the workshops, I interacted with children and I discovered their passion and their will to learn. The time I spent with these children is the best time of my life and when I am with these children, I do not count the hours or the days” , she said.
She’s glad to know that when she retires from all of this, the library will be in good hands.
Another member of the group, Shabahat Fatima, said his group was just a circle of responsible people who wanted to do something.
“In our group, everyone has a role to play and my role was motivating. I motivated students and parents to join the library. Everyone needs a trigger point. Things come when you have a plan and we work according to our plan,” she said.
Speaking of children, she said the first children were far behind modern times. “The area was close to the National Institute of Technology in Srinagar which is the center of knowledge and these people don’t know anything about education. They didn’t know so much,” she added.
What she appreciated the most was the participation of the students. She said that in various sessions and workshops, female students were seen in large numbers. Another fascinating thing to note is that during the talent hunt sessions, the students performed well.
“Some children do wonders when offered proper advice. Outside of class, they consult us by phone, if they need guidance or advice on anything. We have a good network and we Also trying to clear their doubts with our friends so we connect them with a number of knowledgeable people.Things take time to change and it’s been 4-5 years and things are changing,” he said. she stated.
Currently, Shabahat is studying clinical psychology in Lucknow and the offline courses have been a blessing in disguise for her.
“We are almost always with them. Things don’t have to stop. Once you start something and give people hope, you have to keep moving forward. We should have a sense of responsibility that we have to do something. Everything we have, we have to give away,” she added.
As students, the group considers the only power they have is knowledge and are always ready to unleash their power of knowledge.