Palhalan: She may not be famous as her namesake Mehbooba Mufti, but Mehbooba Majid is a household name in her village, Ghat Gopalan in Palhalan, for educating the village children free of cost.
In Ghat Gopalan, a small village comprising 66 households, Mehbooba is the only person who has passed class 11 exams. She has started a centre where she is providing free tuitions to the village children while simultaneously preparing for her class 12 exams scheduled in March.
When she is not teaching the children, she is motivating their parents to spare no effort in educating them. Most men are labourers, earning their livelihoods by catching fish or extracting sand from Jhelum.
“My father is also a labourer but he strived hard to educate me. And it is not easy. Every day I walk 7km to the higher secondary school in Pattan town,” Mehbooba said.
“Sometimes my father accompanies me but most of the time I am on my own. Walking alone would scare me. Even now I feel scared. The road to the village is desolate and you know Pattan and Palhalan are garrison towns,” she said.
“Becoming a teacher is my dream so that I can educate more and more people in my village. Many families do not send their children to school because of poverty,” she said.
Mehbooba has three sisters and a younger brother who after passing 10th class left studies to support his family.
“My father did not let his meagre income come in the way of educating his children,” she said.
Abdul Khaliq Khuroo, a resident of Ghat Gopalan, was so impressed with Mehbooba’s efforts that he called his nephew, Suhail Ahmad, from Bandipora and admitted him to her coaching centre.
“She is a good teacher despite being a student. She is a proud girl of our village,” Khaliq says.
Ghat Gopalan has only one government primary school and Mehbooba wants it to be upgraded to secondary school level.
“We have a total of 120 students in this village. I have requested a teacher from neighbouring village to come here and join me in teaching them,” she said.
Mehbooba believes education can uplift the lot of her fellow villagers’ children but poverty is a big hurdle.
“Most families here can’t make two ends meet and that is why they can’t fund their children’s education to higher levels. But I hope they understand the value of education and make their wards study,” Mehbooba said.