As a teenage girl of 13 years, I was a dreamer, I wanted to be a lawyer like Asma Jahagir of Pakistan; I was used to be dressed like Bay-Nazir-Bhutto our former prime minister. I was a debater and writer; I was used to write stories on social issues.
My mother, like every mother in my country, used to tell me that one day I ...would get married. I always kept thinking, that no - God has not sent me in this world only to get married. My heart always told me that it wasn’t so.
I was very sensitive; one incident changed my life forever. I left my school in 7th grade, and decided never go back to that school again. My heart felt so humiliated, I cried for many days. I wanted to die and I did not see anyone for days. I felt like my heart was dying inside me.
One day, I was delivering a speech to my class, acting like a teacher. I was standing on the teacher’s chair. When she came she started beating me for this in front of my classmates. She abused me and the all girls made fun of me. I was just crying and crying, I was hurt mentally and psychologically.
I decided to surprise them all. I decided to do something that nobody expected. At that moment I decided to leave school. All at once life changed, and all dreams were over. My parents tried to force me to join any other school but i did not.
But I never stopped studying. I started reading in my home privately, I never took any tuition. And along with this I decided to teach girls with respect, and the love and care that I was not given in my school when I volunteered. I started making home visits in my village. I made pamphlets to distribute among people. I told everyone that it will be free education; I walked even further, and went to tell about my school in the nearby villages to convince the people to send their girls to my school. I told them that I would teach them English for free. I started visiting people with my mother on every Sunday, but no one was ready.
It was funny for the people around me, no one trusted me and no one was ready to join my school because I was just 13 years old. But I kept going, I did not want any child to experience that what had happened to me. I decided that I will never use a stick in my school, and that I would make education interesting for the children. In beginning there was only one student, I started it in open air and still there is no building, not even one room, and there was no pen, no copy machine and I only had a few books. In summer we now sit under the sun, in winter we sit under blankets. And when it rains we have to leave the studies. Our roof is the sky that sometimes gives us normal weather so that we can study in open air, and sometimes not. At age sixteen I did my matriculation and started a job as a receptionist in a telecom franchise, where I was being paid 15$ a month and this was the amount that I stared using to by stationary and other important things for my school. Since then I have gone on working. I did masters in Political science in 2010, and now I am doing another Masters in History. All this education I got without any institution or any teacher.
Till now, I have taught about 500 girls, I have three classes now. The Women learning center: with twenty students, to teach stitching, embroidery and other soft skills. Formal Education: with one hundred students English language course: with 15 girls. And all this I do as a volunteer. Beauty salon training center where 20 girls are learning hair dressing and bridal make up. From next month I am planning to start a computer learning Center to make the girls a part of the global village. Now I am able to pay good salaries to the staff of Zephaniah free education from my own salary.
I am also doing a job in a bigger organization for my students and for myself, I am an Admin of World Wide women‘s community page, I admin my own page Zephaniah free Education, I write blogs for a few websites on the issues women are facing in my part of the world. I am still studying; I am learning journalism from the World Pulse and World Wide Women. And I produce theatrical info-dramas in my community to give them messages of peace and respect for women, and on importance of education.
My teams are my family, and my coworkers in my office always give me moral support to carry on. And my very kind and loving friends on the face book are giving me opportunities to explore my ideas. In my part of the world we need to work on improving education. It is just the beginning of my work I have done so far.
Here in my part of the world women have to suffer all their life, they are being tortured mentally and physically they are not being given education, they are not empowered, and child marriage and honor killing needs to be put to an end. When I look at the condition and helplessness of the women, it gives me the spirit to go ahead, to never stop, just to keep going. I know there is only one solution to all our problems, and that is education and awareness of our rights. I want every girl to be educated, empowered and protected, and for this I will keep struggling throughout my life.