by Adeel Saeed
PESHAWAR, Apr 11 (APP):World renowned noble laureate and torchbearer of female rights and education, Malala Yousafzai while acknowledging the spirit of a tri-wheeler driver that is providing free pick and drop service to school-going-girls has sent him money to purchase a pick-up van for the social cause.
Arab Shah, a 31-year young dweller of Pir Bala area on Warsak road, is an auto rickshaw driver who is providing free ride to more than 100 school-going-girls of his remote area for the last seven years. A few days earlier, Arab Shah received message from Zia-ud-Din Yousafzai, father of Malala Yousafzai, who expressed his intention to send money on behalf of Malala for purchasing pick-up van.
“Zia-ud-Din was in touch with me on whatsapp for the last around one year after appearance of news stories in different TV channels and newspapers about my free ride service for school going girls,” claims Arab Shah.
Talking to APP, Arab informed that Zia-ud-Din contacted him and appreciated his efforts for the cause of promoting girls’ education. Zia-ud-Din also conveyed appreciating remarks from Malala to me who said, “It’s heartening to see people in my country are facilitating girls to get education”, Arab Shah added.
In a tweet on his personal account on Jan 30, 2020, Ziauddin shared a news package of Arab Shah and wrote that `Arab Shah is a great human. For attaining deeds one needs a big heart instead of resources.’ Arab Shah said he is in touch with Zia-ud-Din on whatsapp and also exchanged goodwill messages on different occasions.
Recently, he continued, Zia-ud-Din sent him a message expressing his intention of sending money for me to purchase pick-up van for providing service to more girls of the area. After getting consent from Arab Shah and by sharing banks details, Zia-ud-Din sent an amount of Rs. 600,000 for purchasing pick up.
Now after purchasing pick up van I have started providing pick and drop services to the girls of high school, Shah apprised APP. He said earlier he was providing service to girls of primary and middle classes, but now poor female students of high school are also availing the service. The sole objective of providing this free service is to improve female literacy rate in our region where girl’s education is faced with numerous challenges, opined Arab Shah. Malala Yousafzai was also targeted and shot in the head by Taliban in 2013 for her advocacy to promote girl education, he added.
“My five elder sisters could not get education due to different reasons and now I want to support sisters and daughters of other people to get education and contribute in progress and prosperity of the country,” he told APP. Apart from school girls, Arab Shah also provides this service to girls going to seminaries for getting religious education.
Shah said during school days he starts his duty early in the morning and made several trips to take all the girls to schools in groups. Similarly in the afternoon, the return journey also consists of several trips, taking a lot of time besides physical energy.
My duty starts from 7:00 a.m in the morning till 8:30 am and later in the noon, it starts from 1:15 pm to 3:00 pm, he added. Arab Shah informed that the monthly expenditure of free pick and drop is around Rs. 15000 to 20,000 and his earning is around Rs. 40 to 50,000. I have to work hard till late night to meet my own expenses, he shared.
Shah said the cost of free education does not matter for him because as I was aware of the difficulties right from the start. I cannot see girls of my area out of schools and will continue to bear this burden till the time I have energy. He also thanked Malala Yousafzai and her father, Zia-ud-Din for appreciating and acknowledging his spirit and service and assured them that he will continue to do it in future in better way after purchasing van.
Girls availing the service of Arab Shah also thanked Malala Yousafzai and her father Zia-ud-Din for their generous support. “Educational expenses were a great burden on my widow mother and free pick and drop facility has enabled me to continue education,” expressed Sanah, an orphan girl from Pir Bala area who studies in tenth grade at High School and got opportunity of free ride from Arab Shah.
Ayesha, another girl of the area whose father runs a small business of general store in the village, has also praised Arab Shah and Malala Yousafzai. The sacrifice of Arab Shah Bhaijan (brother) and support by Malala and other people like her would help all the girls of our region to attain proper education,” Ayesha remarked.
My dream of getting education would not have been fulfilled, if Arab Bhaijan had not extended us support and cooperation, says Tasleem Minhaj whose father is a driver. “This is very remarkable service rendered by a single young man for the cause of promotion of girl education in our region,” comments Samar Minallah, renowned social worker, anthropologist and documentary maker.
Samar Minallah while talking to the news agency has highly praised the spirit and devotion of Arab Shah for the cause of promoting girl education. She also appreciated and thanked Malala Yousfazi and Zia-ud-Din Yousafzai for acknowledging the spirit of Arbab Shah. She said appreciation from such personalities will instill encouragement of doing more in minds of people like Arab Shah besides attracting more people to do such remarkable services.
People should learn a lesson from Arab Shah and replicate this spirit of sacrifice in their lives for making women folk educated, empowered and facilitate them to contribute in country’s development and prosperity, she remarked.