Although the chief minister of Pakistan’s Punjab province is making commendable efforts to promote education and encourage brilliant young minds from across the country in general and the Punjab in particular, a lot of work is yet to be done, particularly for the boys and girls who have a passion for education but financial constraints are hampering their quest for knowledge.
An 18-year old girl belonging to Hafizabad district, who is doing odd jobs with great determination to meet her own educational expenses as well as those of her siblings, is one of such knowledge seekers.
Maria Toheed, a courageous and brilliant daughter of a poor laborer belonging to Muradian village, located around 16 kilometers from Hafizabad town, has set up a tea stall along with her ailing father to meet the education expenses of her three sisters and two brothers as well as herself. She gets up early in the morning and collects milk from different villages and supplies it to various houses on her motorcycle. Then, she drops her sisters and brothers at their educational institutions and after returning from her college, she works with her father at the tea stall.
Maria Toheed, daughter of Toheed Ahmed, is a student of Bachelor of Commerce while Ayesha Toheed, one of Maria’s sisters younger than her, is a student of Intermediate in Commerce Part-II. Two other sisters of Maria — Fareeza Toheed and Alya Toheed — are also students.
The father of Maria had got his one leg broken in an accident while her mother is also ailing. Despite the difficult circumstances, Maria Toheed did not lose heart and along with her ailing father, set up a tea stall at Wanike Square. She is seen preparing tea and washing utensils all the daylong along with her father.
“After collecting milk from different villages and supplying to various houses early morning, I drop my sisters and brothers at their college and schools before going to my college,” the courageous girl said in an interview. “After returning from my college, I also work as a tutor besides selling tea along with my father at our tea stall,” she said.
“It is my earnest desire that I can serve my parents and brighten the future of my siblings after completing my education. I and my sisters are very eager to get education. Alas we had an elder brother who could have helped us get education,” she said. “However, I am a lot of courage to face the situation,” she said with great determination.
Maria Toheed said that she has no hesitation in working with her father rather she is happy that she is lending her father a helping hand. She said the girls should come in the field to work, as it gives them self-confidence and courage. “In the beginning, I was a little bit hesitant. Once some boys riding a car even hit my motorcycle and I did fall,” she said.
Toheed Ahmed said that his sons are younger than their sisters. He said he first trained his eldest daughter Maria to drive a motorcycle and now she is also running tea stall with him. “My daughter is very brave and courageous. I am proud of her,” he said, with tears rolling down his cheeks.
Ayesha Toheed, younger sister of Maria Toheed, said they are proud of their parents and elder sister for extending them all possible support to them in difficult circumstances.
Maria Toheed appealed to Punjab Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif to help her meet expenses of her own education as well as that of her sisters and brothers so that they could support and serve their parents after completing their education.
When asked to comment, people of the locality where Maria lives also commended her courage and said that her desire to herself get education as well as support her siblings get education needs to be fulfilled. They also urged the chief minister to make some arrangement for the provision of financial assistance to Maria Toheed so that she and her sisters and brothers could get education and stand on their feet.