16 Days of Activism 2018 - Blog

Aasoo Kohli, the wonder woman who is The Malala of Umer kot

Posted By Baela Raza Jamil is the Trustee/Advisor for the Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA)

ITA

Aasoo, born in a peasant family in a village Meena Ji Dhani near Umerkot in the province of Sindh is the only girl from her village to have received formal education. Known as Aasu Bai, the reason Aasoo received education was her disability, which for many becomes the reason for not receiving education. At the age of five due to receiving an injection from a quack (which is a common practice in villages) Aasoo became physically impaired for life. That did not bring her father hopes shatter of her getting education. She got her enrolled into schools for which Aasoo had to travel long distances. She completed her intermediate and her graduation. However, the hardships did not come to an end. Being a girl with a disability in a village in Pakistan, she without a doubt belonged to one of the marginalized populations of the country. On top of that, according to her, Kohli’s are never enrolled in schools since they always change their residence moving away from one landlord to another working in their fields. This placed Aasoo further to the margins. Upon looking for employment opportunities she was continuously rejected by government officials, not even being allowed to visit their office. She did not stop and started gathering money to start her own school.

However, in the face of all this adversity and hardship, Aasoo bai did not give up to put her education to use and benefit children in her village. Despite being physically impaired, she managed to set up a non-formal school in her village where she herself teaches. Only after she got media coverage for her efforts, the Sindh government reached out and made several promises, which included, constructing a road to the village, constructing a school building, providing one meal a day to the students, installing an RO plant (for water purification), and building two vocational centers in the village.


Aasoo bai’s efforts are indeed laudable which makes her a role model and an inspiration for girls living with a disability and in adverse conditions like her.  Her never ending efforts saw her being invited to New York by Malala Yousafzai to attend the world premier launch of the documentary, “He named me Malala” and the launch of the campaign, “Stand with Malala”.


In order to recognize her work, a tribute was paid to her at the Children’s Literature Festival in 2017 in Mithi.