Fellows in Focus: Asim Janjua

By Asim Janjua on February 04, 2014

Asim is a Global Fellow working in Bahawalpur City, Pakistan with National Rural Support Program Microfinance Bank (NRSP Bank), which supplies financial services for rural communities in Pakistan. Below is a reflection and photographs from his time visiting a self-sufficient community Yazman, Pakistan.

I spent the day visiting local villages, fields and schools in Yazman. Yazman, is a city and capital of Yazman Tehsil of Bahawalpur District, in southern Punjab, Pakistan. It is famous for its desert Cholistan.

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As we meander through dusty desert tracks, the burning smell of the cotton branch lingers in the air, an oddly pleasant smell that is becoming all too familiar.

The villages are hidden away from the surrounding city, I’m surprised that people actually live in what seems to be barren desert land. Their source of sustenance is water from wells, livestock and the astonishing green pastures that grow in the desert. Life is simple and people are happy in what appears to be the middle of nowhere.
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Micro-loans, books and other materials have empowered locals to build a classroom and provide grassroots education to their own children. I ask one child why he wants to study. He replies in his native Saraiki language:

“…without studying there is no izzat…” (‘Izzat’ is a Hindi-Urdu word that loosely translates to ‘honor’ or ‘respect’). I ask why he wants izzat. “…so I can go to university and make my father proud…”

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Without government support, these local elders are school teachers by day, fathers by night, farmers on the weekend, and lifelong heroes to their children. The dignity that education provides is nothing less than magic. Witnessing this type of self-sufficiency is truly inspiring and uplifting. It has been a delightful day in Yazman.

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