A ray of light in the dark tunnel of illiteracy

Karachi:March 08:Three months can change a woman’s life. Spent under the right guidance, it can change her fate from an introvert to someone who can step out of the house with confidence, board the right bus after reading the route number on the vehicle’s windscreen, use her mobile phone to call someone, or retort to a shopkeeper who is cheating her with the grocery bill.
Samina Begum is that guide for women in Yousuf Goth. She spends three months with her 25 students – all adult women – at an adult literacy programme she heads in the area.
Managed by The Citizens Foundation, the programme gives women a basic, three-month course so that they are able to read a newspaper and write a letter. Samina said her students passed the course much more empowered. “Here in Yousuf Goth, literacy level among women is very low.”
Situated on one end of Gadap Town, the area is a rural stretch of land where cubicles of houses are scattered in unkempt rows.
Samina does not only teach women. She campaigns for them as well. “I go from house to house encouraging them to attend classes. The girls are all for it. The men sometimes have an issue.”
Men in the community often have concerns that if their daughters study, they would elope or, as they put it, become Kharaab (immodest). Samina patiently argues with them. She sometimes lets the girls attend the course even if the men disagree. And she faces repercussions for her bold ventures. “Men sometimes call me on my mobile phone,” she pauses a while before carrying on, “I cannot tell you the sort of things they call me. No decent woman can hear that about herself.”
Relatively educated in her community, Samina did her matriculation from Haripur, Hazara. Even in that small village near Jhelum, she would roam around teaching women who were eager to learn. “My father did not like it. Neither did my husband initially. But with time, they both realised that teaching is my passion. This is one thing I cannot compromise on.”
Today, Samina is happily married and a mother to three teenage boys. And she continues to pursue her passion.The news.