On International Literacy Day, we are celebrating our girls, who have braved incredible odds to get an education. One story in particular stands out - of Azra Batool. Azra started off as an Iqra Fund scholarship student and is now a teacher at Alzehra College in Skardu. She credits Iqra Fund for helping her get to where she is today.
Azra began her education in her village of Hemasil Shigar. A keen learner who was always interested in her studies, Azra always did well in school. When she finished middle school and there was no high school in her village, her father – a poor farmer supporting a family of nine - couldn’t afford the cost of sending her to the nearest high school in Skardu, over two hours away. Family relatives living in Skardu offered to support her if she would do their household chores in return. Azra gratefully agreed, and accompanied them to Skardu.
For two years, Azra lived an extremely difficult life. She would go to school during the day, come home and take care of her household obligations, and then stay up late at night studying and completing her schoolwork. But it was all worth it in the end when she passed her Matriculation exam and graduated from high school.
However, Azra’s happiness did not last long. Soon after graduating high school, she was faced with the possibility of not being able to continue her education. She could not afford a college tuition and her arrangement with her relatives had ended. “My dream came true when my application for Iqra Fund’s scholarship program was accepted,” says Azra, “Iqra Fund didn’t just support me financially, they also gave me moral support through career counseling. I was able to build my confidence and gained even more motivation to pursue my education.”
During college, Azra spent time volunteering in her village school, tutoring girls and conducting motivational workshops for mothers where she shared her own story and discussed the importance of girls’ education. Now that she is a teacher, she is a role model for girls in her village, and is able to help her father and support her family financially. “People in my village have seen my journey and what I have achieved, and it is helping them understand the importance of girls’ education. They are more willing to send their girls outside the village for high school now.”
Azra aspires to get a Master’s degree in education and open up a college for girls in her village. She remains one of our biggest inspirations today, and a shining example of the many benefits of educating girls. We can't wait to see what else she achieves.