GRACE, warmth, humility, and vision are words that personified Nasra Wazir Ali. Her personality was a role model for me, as for others who had known her. A closer association developed when I became one of the Trustees of the Education Trust of Nasra School which now oversees five of the school’s campuses.
Nasra Wazir Ali was the daughter of a landlord, appointed magistrate by the British, who believed in education for girls. After graduating from Lahore College for Women, Nasra acquired a ‘BT’ in education. Married to a civil servant, she moved to Karachi from Delhi in 1947.
The need for a suitable school for her children led to the beginning of a one-room class, which developed into the Nasra school, established in February 1949 in a part of the house allotted to her husband, Mr Wazir Ali, adjacent to today’s M. A. Jinnah Road.
The names of the founders, including her brother’s, Zafarullah Malik, are engraved on the gate-post of the school, now expanded to five campuses across Karachi. It provides affordable but quality education to thousands of underprivileged students. Her vision and interest in education ensured the best for those who need it most so that they too can live their dreams.
Nasra’s empathy was apparent in her dealings with all, especially the school’s staff. As the spouse of a highly-placed international civil servant, she had exposure to the cultures and academic systems of developed countries, and she brought and introduced many good practices in her own school. Her high profile never tarnished her warmth and humility. For me, this was her most memorable trait.
Her rapport and affection for the lower cadre staff of Nasra School made them a family for her in her closing years. She chose to live in a small apartment within the school that was her life. Age weakened her body, not her resolve.
Nasra Wazir Ali will live on in many hearts and minds as an inspiration for how life should be lived and shared.
Ameena Saiyid OBE
Published in Dawn, September 13th, 2015