The Power Couple of Jagir Basin

For Maria Bono and her husband Raja Naveed, the endearing “power couple” label applied by their community is one they can wear confidently. Together, they have dedicated themselves to creating lasting change in their rural community. Maria worked in a government job, and Raja spent years teaching at urban, private schools. But they couldn’t shake the feeling that they had a greater calling waiting. Together, the couple decided to relocate back to the rural, mountainous terrain of Gilgit Baltistan.

Outdoor classroom

“This community is one of the most underprivileged communities in Gilgit Baltistan and they deserve their right to education. The community has migrated from other parts of the region and settled here to feed their families,” Raja shares.

Maria adds, “These children are active learners and whatever we teach, they pick quickly.”

For the 145 students that attend the school where Maria and Raja teach, the school day is an opportunity to focus on their growth, and their social connections, and to enjoy being children. Outside of school hours, many of the children help to tend cattle with their families. Before they found a permanent structure, classes took place in open fields, with cattle tied up nearby.

Maria and Raja have worked hard to make sure families are included in their children’s education. They are welcome in the school building and regularly participate in parent-teacher conferences and school council meetings. Maria says, “We believe that we can bring about long-lasting change only if the parents, community, and teachers are involved in the progress of these students equally.”

With your help, teachers like Maria and Raja will be able to continue their mission to provide high-quality, engaging education to the children of Gilgit Baltistan and beyond.

Bibi Finds Her Path

Bibi Kashmira

Bibi Kashmira knows firsthand the difference that an education can make. At just 25 years old, she has navigated uncertainty and economic instability, but always saw her education as the light towards a better path. After finishing university, Bibi struggled to find work in her rural village in Badakhshan province, but she didn’t stop networking and sharing her passion with others. Eventually, Bibi learned about a teaching opportunity at a CAI school and confidently submitted her application. To her delight, she was hired as a primary school teacher at the CAI community-based school, where she would shepherd students through grades one through three.

Taking on this job not only allowed Bibi to serve her community but also provided her with a much-needed source of income. Her husband had suffered an injury, leading to permanent disability, during the conflict of years prior and her employment was crucial in supporting their family financially.

As Bibi tells it, “Before the establishment of the community-based education program in the village, students faced numerous challenges including a long distance to reach school and inability to purchase school supplies. However, since the establishment of the school, students have shown a remarkable interest and enthusiasm for learning. The provision of teaching and learning materials has greatly benefitted not only the students but also their families.”

As a leader in her school and her family, Bibi is a shining light to the girls and boys in her classroom about the positive impact women can make, even in the harshest of circumstances.



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