KARACHI: Armed with spades, hammers, mixing tools, levelling equipment, electrical fitting tools and kitchen utensils, 56 students of Nixor College were all geared up to construct a school building all on their own. They were participating in a training exercise on Thursday in their school’s parking lot.
Wearing yellow safety hats, clear frame glasses and gloves, the students were divided into teams to learn and practice how to construct a school.
In 2014, the college’s student affairs department began the ‘Gilgit Revival Project’, during which they constructed a school building in a flood-affected area in Dilnati village, right off the Karakoram Highway. Ten members of the administration and 42 students participated in the project and handed the school over to residents of Dilnati. Currently the school caters to more than 200 students.
This year, the ‘Gilgit Revival Project 2.0′ is aiming to construct a girls’ school with six rooms in Hatoon village in Ghizar district. The village is a two-and-a-half-hour drive from main Gilgit city. “In Hatoon, there has been no girls’ school for the last six years,” the student affairs manager, Amna Liaquat, said, adding that the school was burnt down six years ago due to an electric short circuit.
The students’ target is to build a school with six rooms and two washrooms within 21 days, Liaquat explained, adding that they know they can accomplish this monumental task, as they did the same thing in 2014. “The raw material will be taken from the area while the students are being trained in Karachi at a five-day training in the parking of their college to gain an understanding of how construction work is done,” she added.
The students will be building the school from scratch, all on their own, said the student affairs coordinator, Talha Khan. Their trainers will be there and a team of 10 members from the administration will also be accompanying the students to Gilgit, he added. “They will be doing everything on their own, which includes laundry, cooking, making walls, wiring, doing plaster and even cement mixing,” he explained.
All the students are from Nixor’s A-levels school and are between the ages of 17 and 19 years. They have all voluntarily signed up for the project. The construction cost is estimated to be Rs6 million, which has been generated by the students themselves through different events they organised in the last two years.
Cutting tomatoes and learning to cook over firewood instead of a gas stove was a new experience for one student, Nimra Javed. “It is a good opportunity to go, see and learn how people live there and help them in any way we can,” she said.
Another student, Shayan Mehmood Dinar, who was learning electrical wiring, will be travelling to Gilgit for the first time. We are learning what we never did in our homes, he said.
Masonry trainer Shabbir Khan commented that the students are energetic and keen to learn. “I just guide them and they do it perfectly,” he said proudly, adding that the students will do all the construction work on their own and will work 24 hours in three shifts.
The students will be bearing their transportation and accommodation expenses on their own. Their parents have given permission to the college to take them to Gilgit. “Students will be travelling from Karachi to Islamabad via the Greenline train and on a bus from Islamabad till Hatoon village,” said Khan, adding that the students will spend 21 hours on the train and another 26 hours on the bus. The students will leave Karachi on June 29 and will return on July 21.
Khan also said that the students will be staying at a nearby boys’ school, which is available due to vacations. “The students will be responsible for taking care of their accomodations,” he said.
Nixor College Dean Nadeem Ghani encouraged the students in the training activity. “Academic achievements should be the students’ priority but not their only priority,” he said. This is how you build strong leaders who have willingness and skills to bring sustainable changes, he summed up.