Anum Anwar was a student who had contracted cancer and died while studying at the PakTurk Schools. Anum, who loved Turkey and her Turkish teachers, had proclaimed herself a ‘Turkish girl’. As the PakTurkFile, we commemorate Anum once again with our prayers to Allah for mercy to her dear departed soul and express our condolences to her family.
Perhaps the most important project that the volunteers of the Hizmet Movement have implemented in every country since the early 90’s was sowing seeds of love. In the words of a great poet, “Scatter the seeds, if they do not grow, let the soil fret!” and likewise, the soil never embarrassed the defenders of love. With its fertile soil, Pakistan became one of the places where the scattered seeds put down roots and sprouted. PakTurk Schools, which fell to the ground as seeds in 1995, developed, grew and gave fruits.
Anum Anwar was just one of the rare blossoms of the PakTurk School in Islamabad. We say “she was”, because she migrated to the eternal realm at the beginning of 2016 due to an unyielding illness when she was only 15 years old. Having been diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour, Anum, a Year 10 grade student, underwent a critical surgery but could not get up from the operation table. From earth as they were, all humans would of course return to the earth; yet, Anum’s early farewell was one of the most agonizing losses suffered by the PakTurk family. Anum Anwar had responded to the love she received from her Turkish teachers and proclaimed herself a “Turkish girl“.
She made her parents memorize the words ‘Abla’ and ‘Hoca’
Shortly after her death, Cihan News Agency had interviewed Anum’s parents and informed the public about her life and her love for Turkey. In memory of Anum, we once again share what Anum’s parents had narrated about her:
Living in Kallar Kahar, 130 km away from capital Islamabad, the Anwar family placed the flags of Pakistan and Turkey on their late daughter’s grave because in her health, Anum had told her father Anwar Malik, “I am the daughter of both Pakistanis and Turks.” Her father said that for this reason, they placed the flags of the two countries on her daughter’s grave.
Narrating how her daughter loved the PakTurk Schools, Malik added, “She would especially tell us much about her dorm supervisor and her teacher. She virtually made us memorize the Turkish words ‘Abla’ (elder sister) and ‘Hoca’ (teacher).”
‘Each Turkish teacher was like a mother or a sister for my daughter’
Anwar Malik expressed his pride for having educated her daughter in a PakTurk School. His eyes welled as he said, “Anum improved herself a lot in that school.” Malik also narrated one of his conversations with her daughter: “Once I light-heartedly asked her, ‘Are you the daughter of Pakistan or Turkey?’ She replied, ‘ Dad, I was born in Pakistan and I grew up here. This is my country, but half of myself is with the Turks. I am also their daughter.’ We laughed together to our conversation.”
Expressing how she and her daughter were happy with the Turkish schools, Anum’s mother Rifat Yasmeen said, “My daughter always told us about her teachers and her dorm supervisors. For my daughter, each of them was no different than a mother or a sister.”
‘She no longer wished to become a doctor or an engineer’
Selviye Koç, the Turkish teacher about whom Anum always talked to her family and considered her as a ‘mother’, could not stop her tears as she talked about her student. Commending her late student for having learned Turkish in a very short time, Teacher Selviye narrated Anum’s wish for becoming a teacher after attending the PakTurk Schools: “Initially, Anum would tell me she wished to become a medical doctor or an engineer or an advocate. In later years, she told me, ‘I no longer wish to become a doctor or an engineer; I would like to become a teacher like you. I also would like to attend a university in Turkey.’”
‘I was shattered by the news of her death’
Teacher Selviye also narrated the last days of her student in strong sorrow: “In the first hours I heard about her illness, I could not gather myself. She was a very successful student. When her condition worsened and she was admitted to the hospital, we went there to visit her. She frequently told us how much she missed the school and the Turkish food. We thought she would come out of the hospital shortly. One day, Anum’s father called me and said her daughter had been taken for a surgery. She requested our prayers. I do not remember what I was doing at that time, but I left it all. I took ablution and opened my hands in prayer for Anum.”
Stating how she felt shattered by the sad news given by Anum’s father a couple of hours later, Selviye Koç added, “I still have on my mobile phone that text message from her father saying, ‘She’s no more’. Those days were very tough for us.”
‘We loved our students very dearly’
Teacher Selviye, who also attended the funeral of her student, said the reason why Anum’s father called her at the family’s most difficult time and asked for a Turkish flag was a special love that not everyone could understand. Teacher Selviye said Anum had been shrouded in the Pakistani and Turkish flags during her burial and explained the reason behind the formation of such a profound love and compassion between her and her students with the words, “We loved our students very dearly.“