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“I wanted to do something in my spare time that would be of some use”

There is a fire fighter in Pakistan, who, for the past 30 years, has been teaching Islamabad’s poorest children how to read and write.

His name is Mohammed Ayub. His students know him as Master Ayub.

“My family were staying in the village and I was here in the city alone, so I wanted to do something in my spare time that would be of some use,” Ayub told Al Jazeera.

He saw a boy washing cars and asked why he wasn’t at school. The boy told him he came from a poor family, so he had no option but to work. Ayub bought him a notebook, pencil and an eraser and started teaching him immediately.

His new student brought along his friend the next day. A couple more came the day after that and within a week about fifty children were coming along to be taught how to read and write.

Now Master Ayub’s students have increased to about 200. They are a combined group of Muslim and Christian kids from neighbouring slums. Many come to class at a park in F-Sector after they finish work for the day.

Master Ayub understands their plight.

“My father died when I was still a young man. I was left responsible for my five brothers and three sisters. I would teach them, and also work hard selling newspapers, making bags, to earn a living for us all,” he explains to Al Jazeera.

They say the early years were difficult. The authorities were suspicious because he was teaching so many Christian children. They believed he might be a missionary. Master Ayub, however, is Muslim.

For these students, Master Ayub has given them more than the ability to read and write. He has given them hope and a better future. Many have gone on to pass their exams, enter university and find employment afterwards.

If you haven’t already heard of this man, you can read and watch his story here.


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May 2018
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