‘Teach Tolerance’: This Woman’s Journey To Educate Children In Her Village In Kashmir
Sabbah Haji Baji, director of Haji Public School, is on the mission of making education accessible in an otherwise easily overlooked area. Starting with about 2 teachers and 35 students, the school built by her family-run Haji Educational Foundation, in a remote inaccessible area of Kashmir has grown to accommodate more than 20 teachers and 350 students and grows to this day. At CONVERGE 2016, YKA’s flagship event, Baji shared her powerful story through a series of photos of breaking barriers and starting change to an audience of over 1500 people.
The upheaval in Kashmir Valley is primarily what most of us hear about in the news when we talk about India’s northernmost state. But away from the conflict and the bloodshed, is a story of impact and change headed by a one-woman army. More than 7000 feet over the ground, overlooking the Chenab River in the Doda district of Jammu and Kashmir is a reality far-removed from the reality that we don’t witness on primetime television. The village of Breswana is unlike many others. Inaccessible to most people, this village lives in a remote part of the country that policymakers and governments tend to overlook.
“We can’t depend on the government. It is on us to get the area involved and with that, anything is possible,”said Baji. And she says that with good reason. With no health and educational coverage and accessible only through horseback beyond a certain point. The school, set up in 2000, aims to provide quality education to a village that hasn’t seen it in over 30 years.
And she does not do it by herself. With support from her family as well as in the online community, through donations of cash and kind, Baji vowed to spread the change as much as she could. Moreover and most importantly, she stated that the idea is for people to copy the concept and begin schools in their own villages.
“What keeps our volunteers and me going is that our kids are bright and happy” added Baji.
She ended her powerful call to spread change by asking young people to teach. “Teach well, teach in an open-minded way and teach tolerance and kindness.”
This story was first published on YouthKiAwaz