“Our country is making atom bombs, meanwhile 25 million Pakistani kids are on the roads. Drawing room discussions comprise of topics limited to politics and complaining about our leaders. But what are we doing on our level?” questions Asma Tughral, the CEO o SAYA Trust School. Since the past 10 years, she has been running her own school in the suburbs of Islamabad. Education was always valuable for her so she made sure she completed hers after her marriage and right after that pursued teaching as a profession. She hasn’t stopped since, even after becoming a mother. She’s taught in schools, colleges, universities and now is running her own school to cater to the needs of underprivileged children.
Starting a school is not an easy job and Asma, too, had her share of difficulties. She started off by teaching poor children under the shadow of a tree. “Gradually we got a ceiling over our heads, then one room, a second, and then a third. First we had to convince the parents to send their daughters to school, then we had to find capable teachers, the likes of those teaching in reputed schools of Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore. We had to train those teachers, find volunteers, raise funds and make a proper teaching system.” According to Asma, it is the first step you take that is difficult; then the way forward becomes easier.
With the support of her husband and in laws, Asma managed to give time to her children along with her work. They would go to school to study, while Asma would go to school to teach. The rest of the day, they would be together. However, the one regret she has is not having been able to spend time with her mother, who has by now passed away. Careers can take a back seat but human relationships can’t, parents can’t. “When my mother would call me while I was busy, I would tell her I couldn’t speak to her at that moment. Now I realize, if your parents call, put everything aside, and listen to them, even if they’re talking about things like who won the cricket match, who scored the four. There is nothing more important than your parents,” she advises.
While financial independence is important, Asma feels emotionally it’s good to depend on someone. “Otherwise one would get lonely,” she says. Her work has changed her for the better; she has more humility and she’s more sensitive. “Previously everything I had, seemed like my right. Now I realise that these are all blessings and privileges.” Running her own school has taught her that the key to personal happiness is spreading happiness. Asma’s message to young girls is similar. She says, “All educated girls are responsible for the education and health of their supporting families, maids, servants. Pay back to the society, it doesn’t always have to be just about yourself.”
Asma’s Miracle Moment was the day her school first started functioning. They bought uniforms and shoes for their 20 students. “On Monday when they came they were so happy and so proud. I called my husband and told him to come to the school immediately, because a moment like this will never come again. The way they were looking at each other, they evoked feelings in me which I’ve never felt before. I saw so much pride in their eyes, I’ve never experienced such pride ever”. This is what true happiness looks like, spreading positivity, smiles and hope. And with Miracle Women like Asma Tughral, we cannot help but hope for an educated and moving forward Pakistan.