A light in the dark

 By Simonetta Sandri

Light as described by the American writer Edith Wharton, born in 1862, who, when Germany declared war on France in 1914, created literary workshops for unemployed and needy workers. The light from the candle of the first woman to receive the Pulitzer prize, in 1921. A ray of light in the dark. To see another glimmer of light in the dark, we returned to Pakistan, to introduce you to the 13 year-old Anwar Ali…

The Khairpur Mirs district of Pakistan is in the province of northern Sindh and is bordered to the north by the districts of Shikarpur and Sukkur, by India to the east, by Sanghar and Nawabshah to the south and Larkana to the west. The district covers a total of 15,910 km2, made up of 8 taluka (local administrative districts, similar to wards in the UK). The Nara ward, of which Kadanwari is part, in the Khairpur Mirs district, is one of the arid areas facing the biggest hardships in Pakistan due to a lack of infrastructure and numerous social and economic problems. Here, much of the desert area is commonly known as achro thaar (white desert) but there are a few areas in the hills where the land can be cultivated. In general, however, the local communities survive in these places below the poverty line and there is a need for basic healthcare and education facilities which are currently lacking. For a long time, Eni Pakistan Ltd has been committed to improving living conditions for local populations, both in terms of education and access to healthcare services and drinking water.

The Khairpur Mirs district of Pakistan

Guaranteeing education to children who had no access to it due to a lack of household funds was a much-needed first step on the road to development, to building a future. For this, Eni Pakistan Ltd decided to build schools to “spread the light of education”, so that others could see the light at the end of their own tunnels. Between 2010 and now, in Ihsanabad, Eni Pakistan has built 11 primary schools (ages 6 to 10) and 1 middle school (11 to 14 years), facilities which today provide education to 890 students, including 306 girls. This is part of its welfare work delivered by the local NGO the Goth Seengar Foundation (GSF) which has worked in the country since 1991. Support had also been provided in the management and training of the 26 members of the teaching staff. However, the teachers stood out on their own merit in the educational facilities in the area, with the teaching of English, Sindhi, Urdu, social and religious studies, maths and science.

Thirteen year-old Anwar Ali is a student who attends one of the schools created by Eni in Kadanwari, a quiet and calm boy who is also very determined, willing and passionate about his studies. Irshad Ali Bhambro, coordinator of the teaching unit at Ishanabad middle school who has a wealth of experience of teaching in a number of public schools as well as a Master’s in Zoology from Shah Abdul Latif University, says that “Anwar is one of the brightest students who passes exams with full marks and who is very interested in English, Pakistani studies and maths”. He’s an enthusiastic little boy who has never missed a lesson”, he continued, “even though every day he has to walk 7 km from his village Allahdad Bhambro to get to school. This challenge keeps his dream alive”.

Irshad Ali Bhambro every day he has to walk 7 km from his village Allahdad Bhambro to get to school. This challenge keeps his dream alive

Perseverance and patience are two great virtues for a child who is following and creating his own destiny. With his legs, with his arms, with his satchel on his back, paying no attention to its burden. As well as excelling in his studies, Anwar Ali participates actively, and successfully, in various competitions and sporting activities. Each year to celebrate independence day on 14 August, the Pakistani company organises celebratory ceremonies, seminars, symposiums and linguistic competitions.

In last August, this outstanding student proved to be a real rising star: he came first in the language competition organised for the local district.  But this is only the first of many fine achievements: he also finished in second place in another major event, on the aforementioned Independence Day, organised by the Khairpur Mirs district. Misri Khan Bhambro, Anwar’s father, admits that “the success of Anwar is really exciting and greatly admired and all credit should be given to Eni Pakistan for the education which they are providing to our children.” This success is very inspiring for other young pupils, Anwar’s school friends, who have started to get actively involved not just in school activities but also debates, competitions and sporting activities.  Other children from the community of Channa, close to Anwar Ali’s village, have slowly but surely come together at the school. Because, as the saying goes, good things come to those who wait.

SEE MORE: The dream of Hajran by Simonetta Sandri

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Simonetta Sandri