My mother-in-law, a sheer dynamo of social activism, runs charitable and da`wah projects. Several years ago, she was determined to do something to help the poor and illiterate in the rural areas. My late father-in-law (may Allah bless him with the highest of Paradise, ameen) donated land to her and she got the wheels in motion. She got her friends and other sponsors to back her and proceeded to build a school for girls in Bara Gawa, Jehlum.

Yes, she built a school :)

I’ve had the pleasure of visiting her school several times. Ms M and Bear love the gaoo (village). The girls love everything rural and rustic and find everything in the village a delight. They spend hours outdoors and even try to make friends with the goats.

Trudging up to the madrasah

Bear and Dadi trudging to the madrasah

A few summers ago, we made a trip to the madrasah. We drove the madrasah’s APV – fondly referred to as the dubba (box) – but due to a broken bridge, had to park a distance away and walk the rest of the way. We saw a few interesting things like this river which had gone dry…

Dry river

… and teelay – hillocks and dunes… This is a typical landscape of rain-fed land in Pakistan.


As we got closer to the madrasah, the girls got really excited. Since Dadi is the principal, we get VIP treatment :)

Walking up to the madrasah

Just outside the madrasah walls now…

Dadi’s madrasah was modelled along the lines of her family home in Rawalpindi. Much of that home has been sectioned off and sold but in its heyday, it was a sprawling mansion with a large courtyard. She has fond memories of her childhood there, so she decided to replicate it in this sleepy village.

Dadi's Madrasah - courtyard

The photograph below shows a two-storey building – the lower floor consists of the classrooms and the second, the dormitory. The roof-top has a kitchen and serves as an open-roofed dining area for the girls on sunny days.

Dadi's Madrasah

When I first visited the place though, some six years ago, it was only a one-storey building. My mother-in-law didn’t have sufficient funds to proceed with the construction. Rather than delay the girls’ education, she decided to open the school anyway with only the classrooms completed. Her plans for the hostel/dorms were postponed but alhamdulillah, has come to fruition with the help of many well-meaning sponsors.

Dadi's Madrasah - Garden

It is Dadi’s vision that graduates of her school return to their respective villages and educate their people. This has already commenced with her first batch of students. It pleases me to see how hard some people are striving, quietly but determinedly, to improve the lives of those who are in need. Alhamdulillah, change has begun.

More in Part 2 in shaa Allah.