10/2/13A CLASS OF HER OWNmoreintelligentlife.com/print/content/ideas/anonymous/class-her-own2/11
constituency in southern Karachi, Zahra Shahid Hussain, a much-admired professor, activist andvice-president of the political party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, had been shot dead at the gates of her house by two men on a motorcycle. The next morning Samina Baig, a 22-year-old, becamethe first Pakistani woman to scale Everest.To enter Moach Goth is to begin to understand another climb, that made by Humaira Bachal.When she and her family came here, they had just cleared their debts. It was probably some timein 1995, but they are not sure. The settlement was small, nothing like now. A fishing village hadbeen here for a long time, but now it was transforming into a squatter’s colony in the fast-expanding conurbation of Karachi. When they arrived, as they remember it, there were about ahundred mud and straw huts. There were jungles of thorny acacia. The gangs had not yet formed,and in any case no vehicles really came to the village, so you didn’t need to flash your headlightsin code to enter anybody’s turf after dark.Now, between the Sindhis, Balochis, Kutchhis, Brohis, Mohajirs, Punjabis and Bengalis, thereare 160,000, perhaps 180,000, people in Moach Goth. The sand blows through its unpavedstreets. The cement water tower that stands tall over the population worked for two months, thenran dry, so now they must buy water from private contractors. Electricity lines have beeninstalled, but there are power cuts for nine hours a day. Sewage pipes were laid twice; eachtime they burst in the rains.Two of the three government schools in Moach Goth are ghost schools, abandoned by their teachers and administrators and occupied instead by junkies or criminals; there are anestimated 30,000 such schools in Pakistan. The single working school left in Moach Goth barelyfunctions. Boys are usually pulled out at 12 by their families and put to work in factories or onconstruction sites; girls are rarely permitted to study at all. Government figures state that 40% of Pakistani girls have had a primary education, but other official sources put female literacy inPakistan at 26%. According to independent sources, if you exclude those who can form onlytheir signature, the figure tumbles to 12%.So when Humaira Bachal matriculated—the equivalent of taking her GCSEs—it was about themost improbable thing a girl from Moach Goth could do. And then she built perhaps the mostimprobable school in the world. She is 26 now, and she started it when she was 13.
Picture: Humaira Bachal, founder of the Dream Model Street School, stands in one of themany abandoned, or "ghost", schools of Karachi