By: Sameer Mandhro
KARACHI: Aansoo Kohli, a young, physically impaired girl from the Hindu community, who has been dubbed ‘Sindh’s Malala’ by the Sindh Assembly, will join Malala Yousafzai in New York next week for the world premiere of her documentary film, titled ‘He Named Me Malala’, and the launch of the #StandWithMalala social action campaign.
The week-long event will be held at the United Nations headquarters and Aansoo is a special guest from Pakistan. The documentary was directed by Davis Guggenheim about Malala’s life — from childhood till the attack on her by the Taliban.
Aansoo will also attend other UN events and will share her experiences about the issues facing female secondary education in Pakistan. Five girls who have endured similar struggles from Syria, Nigeria and Pakistan will also attend the event and Aansoo is one of them.
“It is an honour for me to join Malala’s struggle. To meet her and to be inspired by her,” Aansoo told The Express Tribune on Friday. “It will encourage other girls of Pakistan to come out and do something for education as well,” she said.
Aansoo is the only graduate in her native village, Mena Ji Dhan, located around 17 kilometres from Kunri and 28 kilometres from Umerkot.
Hailing from a low-caste Hindu family and being the daughter of a peasant, she overcame her circumstances and started her own school in June, 2014, with a few children from her village. She had more than 200 students within a couple of months and currently there are 336 students enrolled in her school, including 136 girls.
Several schools in her area have been closed and when the media raised the issue of this handicapped girl’s struggle, the Sindh government announced its complete support for her mission. The government officials made several promises, including a loud announcement during the assembly session that all students enrolled in her school will be provided a one-time meal. The provincial government also promised a road to her village, the construction of a school building, an RO plant and two vocational centres for her village but nothing has been done as yet. “Only one room has been made,” she told The Express Tribune.
Currently, there are four one-room schools named after her father, Konbho Mal School, which she runs, but three of them were built by Aansoo, with the help of different philanthropists.
“I am very thankful for everyone who supported a Hindu and physically impaired girl,” she said with tearful eyes. “I am lucky enough to interact with international dignitaries,” she said.
Aansoo is the first girl from Sindh who has been invited by the Malala Fund. “Aansoo is not only a role model for our Kohli community but for all deprived communities of Pakistan,” commented advocate Ram Kohli.
Ram said that less than one per cent of the girls from his community attend primary and secondary schools. “A few lucky girls go to colleges and universities,” he added. “Her participation in an international event will encourage our suppressed and depressed girls to come out and acquire education.”
Aansoo’s older brother, Samero, will also accompany her and attend the events.