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They give food, for the love of Him, to the needy, the orphan, the captive: 'we feed you only for the sake of God; we desire no recompense from you, nor thankfulness'. Quran 76:7.

Adult Literacy Program in KKA

By Dr. Atiya Khan

“Smiling beautiful faces, bright eyes, extruding excitement and joy in every gesture…” This is not a description of a group of children in an amusement part, but of a group of women attending a basic adult literacy class.

I had arrived here with Kaneez Fatima, who is in charge of the educational cell of HDF. We visited this class unannounced. It was taught in a dimly lit room in a modest house in Karachi’s Kachchi Abaadi.. I had not expected the students to be as joyful and eager as they were.

There were seven women in the class. Their ages ranged from 23-40-years old. All of them were ready to show Kaneez Fatima and me what they had been learning.

The students came from a variety of different backgrounds. One of them, a mother of five, had left her seven-month-old infant at home with her husband. Another student was the mother of four children, two of whom she still supported. A third student was the mother of the teacher.

This class’ teacher also teaches one of the early-morning kindergarten classes. She has an F.A. degree and completing her B.A. at a local college.

The mother of the seven-month-old began reading for us: “Bashir ek kisan hay. Bashir buddha aadmi hay.” She then burst into laughter and hid her face in her shawl, her face totally red. I could not understand what had happened. Another woman then told me that Bashir is the woman’s husband’s name. We all laughed with her then.

I asked the class why they wanted to read and what they will do with this ability. They all wanted to reply. One woman said, “Everyone makes fun of me because I am so old and can’t read. I am “Buddha tota [parrot]” But I will continue to learn to read…Now that have started to learn, I don’t have to ask people what number bus is coming--I can read it for myself.”

Another woman said, “I am helping my child do his homework. This way I don’t need to hire a tutor for him.”

A third woman replied that she was now able to read the television listings and find out when women’s programs air.

“I can read about my choices of birth control,” added another.

All of the students seemed to feel so accomplished and confident. For this reason our visit to their class was the best experience I had during my stay in Pakistan. If for nothing else, we should all continue our support for HDF in order to fund this class and others like it.

Date/Time Last Modified: 1/27/2003 12:51:51 PM

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