If you live in a developed country, you have hit the jackpot. In contrast, for kids born in developing nations, life can be short and hard. Basic access to medical care, education opportunities, and a generally safe environment to study becomes extremely difficult.
But one Pakistani man decided he wanted to change all that. When Mohammed Ayub started working in Islamabad, he noticed that a lot of children were roaming the streets during the day. He didn’t understand why, until one child told him about the crushing poverty of his life.
That answer deeply moved Ayub, and it compelled him to begin his great mission to educate the poor of Islamabad.
Mohammed Ayub moved to Islamabad to work for a local fire brigade. While his job was good, he wanted to do more.
Thirty years ago, Ayub, 58, moved to Islamabad from a small village. He started working with a local fire brigade in the city, but while he enjoyed his job, he quickly realized that he needed more.
“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 said according to Al Jazeera.
He explored the city and area where he lived looking for something, anything that might fulfill him.
A chance encounter with a poor boy would change his life.
As he was out one day, Ayub saw a boy washing cars. To Ayub, this was strange: why wasn’t this boy in school? When he approached the child and confronted him about it, the young boy’s answer touched Ayub deeply.
“My parents are poor,” the boy had told Ayub according to Al Jazeera. “So I work.”
Ayub had also suffered poverty throughout his childhood. And, from his experiences, he knew what a life without education could mean for this young child.
“My father died when I was still a young man,” Ayub said according to Al Jazeera. “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.”
Ayub began teaching the boy — but the next day, something extraordinary happened.
He bought the boy a notebook, pencil, and eraser and began teaching the boy, using a local park as his schoolhouse.
But then something extraordinary happened. On the second day, the boy brought his friend. The next day, more came. And after that, more and more children began showing up. And in the 30 years since he began, Ayub has taught thousands of children.
When he holds a class in the park today, there are usually around 200 students who come to sit for their lessons.
The impact this is having is quite real.
These are generally children from poor families, and without Ayub’s school they would have no access to education.
And to see just how important Ayub is to these kids, you need only look to their hopes, dreams, and lives after Ayub’s school.
One 13-year-old girl, for instance, has been going to Ayub’s school for five years, and wants to become a doctor, according to Al Jazeera.
“When I first time came here, I liked Master Ayub,” the girl told Al Jazeera in the English she had learned at the school. “It’s very good and very special.”
Another former student, who had been studying with Ayub for 10 years is now working at the local municipality as a clerk.
Indeed, as Ayub’s former students grow up and succeed in life, they are even bringing their children to the park for some extra learning after public school.
Ayub’s time with the fire brigade is almost over — but though he will retire, he does not want to stop making an impact.
Soon, Ayub will retire from the fire brigade, his job being mainly administrative at this point. Yet, he hopes to continue teaching and impacting the lives of young children of Islamabad. His goals are lofty, but we hope he succeeds.
“God willing, within a few years, we’ll build a big school,” Ayub said according to Al Jazeera. “And those students who are with us, and say they want to be like Master Ayub, one day they will [be just like me].”