Ho Yaqeen – Let’s believe in Orange Tree!

It was the first month of setting up Orange Tree and needless to say the craziest one. The selected students came for an hour in the first week and it used to be the most happening hour of the day. The kids used to cry, squeal, pee on us, run to their mothers and no matter what we tried, they were not getting detached. When they would leave for the day, we used to sit and get upset wondering where we were going wrong and would call up Sabina aunty asking her for advice and figuring out what needed to be fixed. She would reply in the calmest of tones and soothe us down saying it is completely normal for the kids to not immediately adjust. She told us, it might go on for months and our faces would go white with horror thinking, how will we do this? Amidst all this, Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy called and said they would like to shoot us. Arfa; our head teacher took a stern stance, no way were we going to embarrass ourselves to the world by showing how we are not able to handle this. The walls weren’t painted, the kitchen wasn’t set up and we did not want to make our children be portrayed as objects of pity. However, Sharmeen called me up which made me more star struck than convinced to agree and allow them to shoot. Consulting with Sabina aunty made me relax as she explained how we must not panic and take it all in as we go and even Omer bhai told us to go for it. Not until Asad showed me the trailer did I realize how amazing this documentary looked and later on the premiere itself me realize the impact it will have on the viewers in Pakistan. Truly, Sharmeen knows the art of telling a story this powerfully. Sabah and I couldn’t stop ourselves from tearing up during its screening (thanks to Ahmed for making fun of us). It was the story of Lyari, of Sabina aunty who we’ve idealized for many years now and the story of our mothers and children whose stories we’ve always wanted to share with the world. These mothers, who now, after five months, treat us like their own family and Orange Tree as their second home; their stories being told to hundreds of people, to the “Karachi’s intellectual elite” as I like to call them. This story would hopefully be told to thousands more and we only and only hope to inspire more youngsters like us to come forward and work as selflessly as Sabina aunty does. As our mentor, Tazeen Javed had taught us, Pakistan faces an Education Emergency today and it is our duty to come forward and respond to this emergency. We cannot change the past, we cannot change the present mindsets of men and women but the future is in our hands and if you and I can read this blog post, we certainly have the literacy and resources to save our future As Margaret Thatcher, Aqsa Tariq and I like to say: “For those who can do, must just get up and DO!” – Bemisal Iqbal

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