It was day 1 of our induction program for Project Taleem. The day I had been waiting for since March 2016. I was ecstatic to meet them and at the same time anxious and scared. My mind was racing with thoughts and questions about what lies ahead of us. It was daunting.
Amidst all the chaos in my head, our first teacher entered the room. A beautiful lady dressed in a chiffon salwar suit, her head covered with a light pink duppatta and her face sporting a smile that eased all the chaos in my head. She walked up to our team and expressed her gratitude for our program and our team.
Humaira Mohiuddin was born and raised in Kashmir. She moved to Malaysia with her husband and 2 sons post her wedding. While teaching was something she was passionate about, she never really pursued it. One evening, while on an official visit with her husband, she stumbled upon a beautiful sight. She noticed the King of Malaysia sitting with a group of street kids, and teaching them. She was so humbled and touched by this gesture, that a man of such high rank and caliber, taking time out to teach kids from the neglected strata of society solely because of his passion for the art. After discussing with her husband, Humaira Ma’am decided to return to her motherland and became a secondary school teacher at Shadipora Government High School, Bandipore, Kashmir.
Humaira Ma’am embodies passion and dedication. She approaches every obstacle as a challenge and strives to resolve it with determination. She’s always striving to be better, always seeking to learn and growth. The relationship she shares with her students is that of love and care, which is so rare to find. By virtue of Kashmir being a culturally traditional state, it is beautiful to see how Humaira has managed to create a safe space for her boys and girls where they perceive her as their companion and share every emotion and problem with her.
A few weeks after inducting our Taleem teachers into the program and having exposed them to the concept of Guided Practice to increase student engagement, which is a major challenge in most classrooms here, I went to observe Humaira Ma’am’s class. I saw her girls work together in harmony with Humaira Ma’am playing the role of a guide and facilitator. During our class debrief, Humaira Ma’am was in tears when she spoke of this remarkable transformation. “I’ve been teaching in this school for a few years now. My students and I share a very cordial and open relationship. Despite this I had been struggling to bridge the Sunni-Shia divide that existed in my class. Ever since we started working and studying in groups, I have seen my girls get along so well to the extent that they even share their food with each other, a spectacle I thought I’d never witness. The solution was so simple and yet I struggled for years to figure it out. Today is a very proud and emotional moment in my life.”
It is extraordinary individuals like Humaira Ma’am who have raised the bar of excellence for us at SEF. They are the reason we do what we do.