Fifty girls from different parts of Lyari left Karachi on Monday morning for Islamabad for a week-long scout training.
This is the first time that young female scouts will be receiving such training from the Pakistan Girl Guides Association.
All these girls attend classes six to 10 at one of the Rose schools, a network of schools in Lyari's Baghdadi, Nayabad, Moosa Lane and Agra Taj areas. The team is being led by head of the schools, Anwar Bhatti, and other female school teachers.
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"I have to show that talented girls live in Lyari," said one of the students, Nafeesa Sikandar. "I want to help others but lack the training. I hope this scout training will improve my potential."
Determined to help
Despite their young age, the girls are committed to helping out in their neighbourhood once they return from the training. "What I learn in Islamabad, I will apply in Karachi," said class-six student Mahnoor, who lives on Fida Hussain Sheikha Road. She believed that she will be able to help people if there is an emergency in Lyari or any other part of the city. "One should be capable of helping others in times of difficulties," she added with a smile.
Sania, another scout, admitted that violence is a bitter reality for people living in Lyari. She shared how she and her neighbours in Baghdadi suffer whenever there are clashes between gangs. "I feel this training will help me understand how to survive and help others in emergencies," she said.
"The scout training teaches discipline and how to help others," Sania pointed out, hoping that her team will be able to show how strong they are.
A long journey
Initially, the girls were having trouble getting permission from their parents. Sidra and her fellow students are travelling outside Sindh for the first time. "It was difficult for my family to allow me to take such a long journey alone but they trust me and know my spirits," she said.
Sawera Saleem's mother, Zareena, was also upset as it was the first time her 12-year-old daughter was leaving Karachi. "She is my eldest girl and I believe she will bring respect for us and our Lyari," she said. "Her father is sick and can't work properly but he always encourages our daughters to get education."
Most of mothers believe that it was necessary for their daughters to get such trainings and learn how to live in a civilised society. "Scout training will enhance their potential," said Haleema, mother of Sonia and Uzma, both of whom left for Islamabad on Monday. "It will help them to live a comfortable and bold life." As the girls boarded the train at Cantt railway station, they shouted slogans in support of Lyari. 'Aik Lyari sab pe bhari [One Lyari to rule all]' rang across the platform as the parents and relatives waved them goodbye.
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Sania Naz Baloch, the MNA from Lyari, also reached the station to see off the girls. She promised to meet them in Islamabad on Thursday. "These girls need moral support," said Baloch. "I am with them and hope they will bring a positive image for our Lyari."
Published in The Express Tribune, November 24th, 2015.
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