Pakistan: Making Schools Safer - Field Diaries, Day Two: Swat
15 January 2016
"Children are our future. If they think positively, they can transform society."
By Mubashir Fida
15-year-old Rukhsana lives in Aligrama with her extended family. Although her education was disrupted when the Taliban captured her village in 2009, forcing her family to flee, Rukhsana would like to be a teacher when she finishes school. Rukhsana received lessons in disaster preparedness from her headmaster, who was trained by RedR (see below).
"I learnt that if an earthquake happens, we should get under a table, or keep book bags over our heads and walk slowly out of the building. Once we go out onto open ground we should do a headcount to check no-one is missing. We were taught not to panic and not to push others when evacuating the building: rather we should look out for our friends and help as much as we can.
I taught my sisters, nieces and nephews what to do if an earthquake happens. When the earthquake struck in October, we were having lunch. Some guests had come from the neighbouring village with small children. I instructed everybody to move slowly towards the exit and assemble in the garden.
We noticed that two elderly ladies were missing, and my younger nephew and I went back into the house and brought them out slowly. My mother was very proud and said that it is good to take care of each other in such situations. She said, ‘If you had not learnt all this at school, we would have had no clue. This knowledge can save lives.’"
26-year-old Feroz Khan is principal of Rukhsana’s school, the Aligrama Academy of Excellence. He attended RedR’s training in September 2015, and since then has trained 27 fellow teachers and 500 students.
"For me, the best parts of the training were the security and psychosocial elements. I really enjoyed learning about activities that can have a positive impact on children, like painting, poetry competitions, debates, and cleanliness drives in the community. Children are our future and if they think positively, they can play a very constructive role in society and can transform society.
As Rukhsana was telling you, when she learnt something good in school she went home and taught it to her family, and they also appreciated it. This is the real change that is occurring. You are not teaching one child a good thing: you are teaching an entire family something that can save lives."
All photos © Usman Ghani for RedR UK
This project is supported by the Clothworkers’ Foundation, alongside several private donors.