IN the words of Albert Einstein, the only thing that one absolutely has to know “is the location of the library”. However, unfortunately, millions in Pakistan cannot boast of this particular knowledge because in a large part of the country there is no public library worth its name. One such region is Gilgit-Baltistan where virtually all villages and towns stand deprived of such a facility.
However, Neelam Wali, a young and educated girl from the remote village of Sosot Gupis in Ghizer district is kindling the flame of knowledge instead of complaining about the darkness.
After watching students sitting idle during the Covid lockdowns, Neelam decided to set up a library in her village to encourage the habit of reading among the youth. The infrastructure for this purpose was acquired when Neelam’s sister decided to donate the building with the land she had received in inheritance. Later on, Neelam received financial assistance and a donation of books from the Rural Education and Development (READ) foundation, a non-profit entity that works to promote education and literacy in Pakistan. The facility is named Jahan Library after Neelam’s mother. She also hopes to establish a digital library soon.
Nobel peace laureate Malala Yousafzai has rightly said that “one child, one pen can change the world”. Neelam Wali is indeed a true hero and role model for all. Other educated youth may learn from her and do their bit to spread the light of knowledge in their respective areas.
Zahid Ali Zohri
Published in Dawn, January 14th, 2022