Engin Yiğit, an educator who had also worked as an administrator in the PakTurk Schools, wrote about the repercussions of the schools’ achievements on the public opinion. Yiğit also shared the opinions of several Pakistani parents about teachers and schools.
In terms of demographics, PakTurk Islamabad Girls High School was one of our schools with students from different sociocultural circles. The parents, including the state officials, showed great interest in the school. Among our parents was an opposition member of the National Assembly of Pakistan, who would later become a state minister when his party rose to power in the recent elections. He would often visit our school and attend our programs.
This politician parent, who spoke in appreciation of the education his children at our school and expressed his satisfaction and gratitude at every opportunity for the devotion shown by our teachers, came to visit our school on one of our days of trouble. He expressed his regret over the political pressure against the PakTurk Schools and said that he brought this to the agenda during his London visit. He even shared with us the relevant part of the speech he gave during a meeting he attended in the House of Lords: “I have two angels (he meant his daughters, who were our students) and they are studying in a very exquisite school. Unfortunately, their school is going through tough times these days. I feel very sorry for our country in the face of what has happened. “
Did they leave their families and come to spend the Eid here?
While the projects carried out and developed by our schools in the fields of education and social development gained the appreciation of the majority of the society, the PakTurk Schools also became known for their international achievements. This did not go unnoticed by the Pakistani state officials who lauded and appreciated the schools.
One of the largest social projects conducted by the PakTurk Schools was distributing meat to the needy during the Eid al-Adha. Whenever and wherever they met the Hizmet volunteers from Turkey who had opted for spending the Eid in the service of their Pakistani brothers and sisters in Pakistan, Pakistanis expressed their amazement and commended, “Do you mean these people have forfeited spending the Eid with their families only for coming to our country, sacrificing on the Eid al Adha and distributing meat among people?”
Anything ‘can happen’ but not on the Eid!
One of our Pakistani colleagues, who was the vice principal of the PakTurk Islamabad Boys High School, appreciated the activities carried out for students. On the occasion of an Eid al-Adha, some students would support the charity work organized by their teachers instead of going to their homes for the first day of the Eid. Our vice principal colleague could not believe it when he heard that and he said, “I consider everything from the perspective of ‘it can be’, but this is not possible. These children are from Pakistan, and in our country, everyone chooses to be with their families during an Eid and celebrate it at home.” Our colleague was astonished when he saw that the students stayed back as they had promised and engaged in charity activities during the Eid. He said, “I will no longer categorize the jobs you wish to do as the things you ‘can do’ and ‘cannot do’”.
The analogy of ‘modern dervishes’ for the Turkish teachers
The bridges among hearts were built solidly as the educators at the PakTurk educational institutions worked day and night. The activities came to fruition and the fame of the schools were heard by a wider audience. PakTurk Schools were known as the “educational institutions that provided quality education” and the teachers working in those institutions were lauded as “hardworking, well-educated and honest people”.
In Multan, we had a close friend from the city notables who was also the owner of a private school. We had met him during a Masnavi Reading Circle. This friend of ours, who could splendidly interpret the Masnavi of ‘Mawlana’ Jalaluddin Muhammad Rumi also knew the PakTurk educational institutions and the Hizmet Movement very closely. When I asked him what he thought of the Turkish teachers working in our institutions, he replied simply: “They are modern dervishes”. Although our schools were the ‘rivals’ of his school under normal circumstances, the reason why he had remarked about us with those words was his tribute to the sincerity and self-sacrifice of all our colleagues. Perhaps the pleasure and happiness he felt for witnessing a generation whom he had otherwise read only in books outweighed his other feelings.
PakTurk Schools and the PakTurk teachers were value-added contributions to the country, and the lapidists like him knew this very well.