Success Stories

Khaplu is a Many Splendored Place

My name is Syeda Zaira Batool and I belong to Thagas, Khaplu District. Khaplu is a charming little town, nestled in the fastness of lofty mountains, which is known for its medieval castles, and the heroism of its people to fight against the foreign aggression. The place is so remote from the regional headquarters of Skardu that it takes some 5 hours to reach there. That too is possible only in fair weather. During the long winter months, we virtually remain snowbound. My parents were poor and had to sustain a large family. It meant that we siblings had a childhood which was deprived of many creature comforts. It is not a small wonder that myself and my family survived many years of need and denial of many of the necessities of life, which are taken for granted elsewhere.
Having passed my high school examination with an impressive grade would have meant the end of the academic road for many of my contemporaries. Not me. I was determined to go for higher studies and carve out a niche for myself. I am grateful to my family that my parents and all the rest extended unswerving support to me in my endeavor. I, therefore, moved to Skardu and got admission in college. Initially, I had to face a number of difficulties in adjusting to the changed environment of a major urban centre. Overtime, however, I managed to adjust and engrossed myself in my studies with a single-minded determination. My hard work and commitment to my goal bore fruit before long. In the meantime, I kept on improving my grade to the satisfaction and delight of my teachers.
Paucity of funds was plaguing my plans, which was by no means a good thing. At that juncture of despair, I was shown a glimmer of hope when I happened to take glance at a press advertisement by CAET. I was of two minds whether to apply for the scholarship promised in the advert, since the rumor was that most such adverts were phony. In the event, not only I applied but managed to win the coved prize and that put paid to all my financial difficulties. The heartening thing about the whole thing was that the competition to win scholarships was fair, transparent and purely merit-based.
In a couple of years, I hope to enter upon a career and perhaps have a family of my own. If destiny favours me, I shall have ample opportunities to fashion the next generation after my example. It would prove, if proof was indeed needed, that where there is a will there is a way. To conclude on a note of gratitude: but for the support I received from CAET, my dreams would have remained unfulfilled. And you would not be reading this brief memoir!

The Terrific Twins

Sabir and Sajjad are twins who were born to Ghulam Nabi, a retired soldier, and his wife, belonging to Haiderabad, in the Shigar District of Baltistan. It was a poor household and Ghulam Nabi had to work hard to eke out a living for himself and a large brood of his dependents. The birth of the twins was occasion of great rejoicing and jubilation notwithstanding the fact that the future did not appear so bright or promising at that point in time.
No sooner were the twins admitted to the CAET supported Haideria School, however, than they started showing extraordinary talents. Always smiling and friendly, a spitting image of each other, they were the toast of the school and usually finished on top no matter what the contest was about: academics, sports, debates, you name it. In due course, they shifted to a military run high school at Abbottabad, on full scholarship, thanks to their father’s privilege as a war veteran. Even there they continued with a spree of excellence in various curricular and extra-curricular activities. The stay at the aforementioned school no doubt helped polish their mental faculties and physical prowess. It was time now to move up to the university which they did by choosing the one at Rawalakot, Azad Kashmir. Nestled among alpine pastures and rolling hills it is one of the best in the region and attracts students and scholars from far and wide. Once settled in their academic destination, the twins were quick to make their mark. They achieved a place on the roll of honor as well as the vice chancellors special citation for their excellent work. While at the Rawlakot campus, the boys were quick to make friends with their fellow students, belonging to all parts of Paksitan as well as from their own region.

A Voice from the Roof of the World 

It is in and around the Baltistan region that the three great mountain ranges in the world converge. The Himalayas, the Karakorams, and the Hindukush meet here in a friendly geological confusion; throwing up a snowy peak here, and a deep gorge there; a glacier sitting next to a meadow; all in abundance and strewn around in no particular order. Sometimes, it is called the Roof of the World. For the people living here, life is harsh and the elements have to be tamed in order to survive. The men are hardy, long-suffering and tough. The women have to share all the ordeals and challenges alongside their men. The socio-economic structure is shaped by the vicissitudes of the climate. Trust me, it is pretty hard.
I am a daughter of the mountains and was born to struggle in the face of challenges. My name is Syeda Afifa Zehra and I am a recipient of a CAET scholarship, which has enabled me to pursue my dreams of higher studies. I won this scholarship on merit and on the basis of an open competition. Mention must be made here of the unstinted support I got from my father. Though a poor man and not formally educated, he inculcated in me and my siblings the basic values of life, like hard work, integrity and a spirit to help those in need. He is the one who inspired me to realize my dreams. I learned from him that there was no silver bullet to enable you to succeed in life through a short cut. The key to success was hard work and confidence in one’s own capabilities. It goes without saying that my dear mother did not lag behind when it came to encouraging me to go about pursuing my studies. Coming from an economically backward region, the dice seemed to be loaded against me. However, thanks to the support and the guidance provided by CAET, I can now look confidentially into the eyes of the future. Meanwhile, I am spreading the word, and apprising other girls to follow in my footsteps. In one sense the scope of my dreams is limited. Once I finish my studies, I would wish to go back to my beloved Baltistan and serve my own people in whatever humble way I am asked to.

A Voice from the Fairyland.

My name is Saima and I belong to the fabled land of Baltistan. Legend has it that when God planned to build a world for the humankind he thought of reserving a part of it for fairies. Thus the Supreme Architect created snowclad mountains, gurgling streams and lush meadows fit for the habitation of fairies. On second thoughts, however, the plans were shelved and the land allotted to the fairest and most beautiful race on earth that had all the attributes of fairies except wings!
I grew up in poverty and in an environment where education was a rarity among women. However, the household in which I grew up was one of simple living but full of love and sublimity. From the very beginning I knew that I needed to strive in order to rise in life. I must say that in my struggle to excel, I had the full support of my parents. I was the first person from my family to pass the matriculation examination and also the first woman from the village to take up a regular job as a teacher. There was no tradition among my people to send girls to serve away from home even though the life of a woman was (and continues to be) harsh, in this ruggedly beautiful corner of Pakistan. I am happy to note that the trail I blazed was followed by not only my own siblings but numerous other girls, some of whom have gone on to pursue higher studies at a few top ranking institutions in the country.
I got my first teaching assignment in 1999, at Primary School, Tissar, which is located at a distance of some 20 kilometers from my native village of Gulabpur. Greg Mortenson was the person who persuaded me to accept the challenge, which I did. It was not an easy going work. I had to struggle hard in order to make the school a functioning reality, overcoming all manner of difficulties. Once the school had become a viable and going concern, I requested to go back to my own village and start a school there. The request was granted but a host of new challenges were lying in wait for me. For one thing, there was no building available to hold classes. For another, no other educated girl was available to assist me. Undeterred, I started the school at my own house, rent free, and have continued doing so for the next 10 years. I almost singlehandedly shouldered all the responsibilities of running the school. For the most part, it has been an uphill task, which I faced with zeal, grit and determination---qualities expected of a Balti women. In a manner of speaking, I was only playing a role coming down to my time since countless generations of my forbears.
Of late, things have, however, improved considerably. Thanks to visit by Trustee of CAET last spring, things took a rapid turn for the progress in the right direction. Two more teachers have joined my school. CAET has agreed to pay rent for the use of my house as school and also promised to take care of its up keep. They have also decided to undertake the construction of one addition wash room. Events finally seem to have taken a turn for the better. Much better!