Interview with a Tribal Leader
In November, 2018 several of the Shining Light staff team and board were able to travel to the remote Gujjar village of Gumsing to celebrate all that has been accomplished. Over the last eight years, strong relationships have been formed between Shining Light leaders and the local Gujjar religious leaders. The progress toward education and development we have seen would not be possible without these strong bonds of trust and mutual respect. During this last visit to celebrate two new classrooms and the recent graduation of our first Adult Literacy classes, we got to hear from the head religious leader himself – Mulana Wazir Khan.
Interview with Mulana Wazir Khan
Q. What has changed in your village since Shining Light has been working?
A. Except for me, no one could read or write in my village. There were no doctors, nurses, teachers or
other professionals coming from my village. Now, two men have received jobs and one completed their
BA. Families want to send their children to school. The biggest change I have seen is we are now allowing our females to go to hospitals to receive medical care. Before Shining Light, we did not even allow our women to be treated at hospitals. Another change is we used to think that studying English was a sin, now we encourage English!
Q. What caused these changes?
A. Education caused people to change. Before Shining Light, fear prevailed. However, because of their help, trust has been built in every relationship. We trust our daughters, we trust ourselves, we trust others. Trusting our daughters allows them to receive an education, receive outside medical care, and other benefits.
Q. Did you face opposition for brining education to your village?
A. Yes, at first I stood alone. The other religious leaders said that I should stick to religion and not get involved with
education. Today they are seeing the fruit and now thank me for bringing education and there is no opposition!
Q. How did your views of education change?
A. I studied Islam in Kohistan with very strict Islamic teachers who viewed the study of Urdu & English
as evil. I then went to Karachi to further my Islamic studies. I was inspired by my Imam to learn Urdu
and English and other subjects. My mind was opened, I was blessed and the light was shining in my
life. My community needs this and I want to continue promoting education to my people so they can
experience the light.
Q. What do you want to say to the people in the USA?
A. I want to extend my best greetings to the people in the USA. I truly appreciate your hard work and
your prayers for my people. Please continue your efforts to support the Gujjar people. The tree is
about to bear fruit that we can all enjoy. Today it is flowering and we can smell the perfume of the
blooms that will soon bear fruit. Thank you very much. I do not have the words to express my gratitude.
“None should stay illiterate. The illiterate cannot know God or know His will. There is no recognition. Today, because of the work of Shining Light, I have an expectation of engineers, teachers and doctors coming from our community. The seeds planted by Shining Light are bearing fruit. We smell the perfume of the flower which will one day bear full fruit. I am praying for you (Americans & Pakistanis from Shining Light) and trust in your honesty. I feel proud, big, and
encouraged by your work. Thank you and God bless you.” – Mulana Wazir Khan (Gumsing Religious Leader, Speech)
To give to education among the Gujjars and in Pakistan click HERE.