KARACHI: Casually flipping through channels on television, he recalls with a nostalgic smile that when he was growing up, the small TV set his parents had at home only aired one station — PTV. “Now, I have been interviewed by two channels. Who would have thought that a small-town village boy would ever be on TV?” Javaid Ali’s face glows as he recounts his success story.
Growing up in a small village, Qalooburiro near Daharki, in Ghotki district of Sindh, the only thing Javaid remembers being passionate about was working, not as a plant technician or maintenance guy, but working as a manager at one of the industrial set-ups in his hometown. Early on in school, he had found out that in order to be a plant operator in any nearby fertiliser plant or industry, he had to be at least an FSc graduate. However, in order to obtain a higher post, for example that of a general manager or even a CEO, it was required that candidates graduate from university. And Javaid was a dreamer who dared to dream big.
Thus, from a very young age, graduation was Javaid’s aim. The fact that he was born to poor peasants who had no means to send their child to university was absolutely irrelevant; Javaid had a goal and he wasn’t one to give up.
“My teachers were a source of inspiration to me. I had a Hindu tuition teacher, Ramesh Laal, who would charge Rs200 a month. He was an excellent teacher and strengthened my base in mathematics.”
The turning point in Javaid’s life, though, came when he got admitted into a local school in Daharki. In 2006, Javaid’s class was the first batch to pass the Matric exam from the school. Javaid himself was top of his class and as a congratulatory measure, he was awarded a certificate and a few other gifts.
More motivated than ever, Javaid gained acceptance to a secondary school in Mirpur Mathelo. The fee was Rs200 a month, but if you aced the bimonthly exam, you didn’t have to pay tuition fees for the coming two months. A boy with a mission, Javaid made sure to secure the first position every two months. Thus went by two years at the end of which Javaid topped the Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education Sukkur.
With an FSc degree in hand, Javaid could have easily joined any plant he wished as a mechanic or plant operator, but he had seen the cars that people of higher posts drove and he had seen the respect everyone had for them. Now, he resolved, was not the time to give up. NED University had 18 seats for BISE Sukkur and one of them had Javaid’s name on it. Opting for and getting the only chemical engineering seat, Javaid left his small town and went to the big city of Karachi.
“I had to quickly learn how to be sharp and alert. People from villages are simple and honest, even if it hurts them, but people from Karachi are clever. I had to learn to be the same,” narrates Javaid about his time in NED.
The fees were too much for his parents to bear, so his time in NED was funded in part by profits from rice and wheat that his parents would sow, from an Engro scholarship and from an American scholarship provided by the Sindhi Association of North America.
Javaid graduated from what is arguably the toughest engineering programme worldwide. What’s more, he was amongst the top 10 in his class.
“My parents cried, as did many other villagers. I am the first chemical engineering graduate in my entire village. No one believed it was possible, but anything is possible if you dream big,” said Javaid.
Javaid got many job offers, one even in Dubai, but he wasn’t about to leave Pakistan. He chose to stay back in the country that had given him the Pakistani dream. Engro Fertilizer hired him as a graduate trainee engineer. Javaid is the first chemical engineer in the entire district.
On answering the question of what his next goal in life will be, Javaid smiles and says, “To take my parents out for a drive in a car. We have never had a car, but very soon, I will be able to afford one.”
Published in The Express Tribune, February 10th, 2014.
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