Quratul Ain Bakhtiari is an epitome of inspiration. She is not only the perfect model of courage but also of altruism. She has decided to dedicate her whole life to fighting against the injustices that happen in this country and has received prestigious awards for her work. She also had the honor of being a Nobel prize nominee.
Quratul Ain Bakhtiari grew up in a refugee camp in the outskirts of Karachi after the creation of Pakistan in 1947. Despite the tough conditions she completed her schooling. She was married by the age of 16 and was a mother of 3 by the age of 21. Shortly after her marriage East Pakistan declared a war of independence and many people were displaced. Having experienced such hardships herself, she empathized with the refugees and could not endure living a comfortable lavish life herself while thousands of people were on the streets. Along with providing the refugees with healthcare she went as far as bringing refugees into her own house.
As time went by Quratul Ain realized that if real change on a larger level was to be brought something more had to be done. She wanted to transform the approach to educating people who’s job was to articulate and act on the needs of the local communities. She wanted to move the field to more in-depth analysis of local community needs and away from the top-down, donor driver orientation that characterizes too much of the development work in Pakistan. Quratul Ain then founded IDSP, an organization it the mission mission “To nurture and develop individuals and communities that will change the power structures by demystifying processes of Education and development and generate value based partnerships and practices at all levels.” IDSP’s main focus was to train students in learning centres and offer them oppurtunities to engage in their local communities where they could think in innovative and creative ways to implement positive change.
Quratul Ain was also involved in the rural development of Balochistan. She successfully opened 200 government schools in the province which resulted in 200,000 additional girls enrolling in schools across the province .
However, this journey for Quratul Ain has not been easy. Many a times her activism caused problems in her personal life but she remained resilient. There was a time where she was told to choose between her family and her work but she stood by her decision. As she herself said“Changemakers have never had it easy they struggled through their lives to make the change they wanted to see happen and there were many who did not believe in them or their mission along the way. You have to pay a price to get to change. But it is a beautiful price to pay when it happens.” Quratul Ain has transformed thousands of lives and will remain a legend for years to come.