“Kindness is lighting a candle instead of screaming out to the darkness… I am not planning to retire from this job. As long as I am alive with God’s blessing, I will keep serving the children who cannot go to school.”
A Pakistani fire-fighter, Muhammed Eyüp teaches poor children at a park close to the parliament in Islamabad everyday after his shift is over. Eyüp, who has been doing this blessed thing for 35 years without expecting anything in return, dreams of building a school one day. Along with his students, he has been working toward making it come true. “I am not planning to retire from this job. As long as I am alive with God’s blessing, I will keep serving the children who are unable to go to school” he says.
After losing his parent at young age Muhammed Eyüp had to study and work at the same time. Now he is an education activist who dedicated his life to give educational support to the children working on the streets in Islamabad. Fire-fighter Muhammed teaches poor children in a park close to the parliament everyday after work over the past 35 years thus saved them from ignorance.
His circumstances were quite difficult during his school years. So thirty-five years ago when he heard that a car washer boy was unable to go to school due to financial restraints he took it on himself and started helping him. Then the children went up to three. This journey that started with three kids helped thousands of children graduate from school. Currently Muhammed Eyüp has 170 students. He even goes to the extent of covering the children`s stationary expenses for pens, pencils and notebooks. This compassionate educator is going to retire from his occupation as a fire-fighter but he is not planning to stop his efforts for children.
His dream is to build a conventional school one day. He and his students took the first steps to achieve this dream. They collect stones and concrete and store them at the corner of the park. Muhammed Eyüp believes kindness is lighting a candle in the middle of darkness instead of screaming out to that darkness. “As long as I am alive with the Lord’s blessing I will keep serving the children” he says.
He Makes Notebooks for Children
Muhammed Eyüp has been carrying out this long-term project that requires lots of effort all by himself for years. “I used to help people only during the fires. Yet I would always like to help people. When I was thinking about what to do I have noticed the children on the streets. Some were begging, some were doing petty jobs. One day I saw three disabled children wiping the cars’ windows in the traffic lights. I have taken action for them. I have divided my salary into three. I have one share of it to my wife, kept one share for myself and bought paper with the remaining money. I have made notebooks out of that paper for those children” he tells his story.
His handmade notebook and long running efforts testify for Muhammed Eyüp’s attention to education and compassion for children on the streets and deserve to be applauded as an exemplary movement of kindness.
He Helped Thousands to Graduate
Muhammed Eyüp had to regulate the things after the number of students increased. He goes to work in the morning and once his shift is over he spends his time with his students. He teaches three groups in the afternoon. They sit under the streetlamp in the evening. Up until today Muhammed helped around eight thousand children to graduate from school. From among his former students there are civil servants and university lecturers.
Muhammed Eyüp is motivated by the success stories of the children whom he taught in his outdoor school. “During the summer heat in the park and under the trees in the winter we study with the children. Because I intend to help these people I am never disturbed by heat or cold. God makes the things easier” he explains his passion.
Muhammed Eyup teaches every subject in the school curriculum from form one up until grade ten in an organized manner. The government puts a comprehensive test to the children who were not able to attend school regularly, according to which they are allowed to continue their education. Eyup is encouraged to keep up his selfless hard work when he sees his students succeed in the test and further their education. Although Eyup was not well verse in school subjects when he started his initiative through consistent and meticulous self-study he mastered in all subjects to teach them to these underprivileged children.
He Makes Promises Rewards to Encourage Kids Continue Their Studies
Muhammed Eyüp explains what it means to help children who are unable to attend school due to financial restraints. “If I did not start teaching school subjects to those kids without the means for education they would eventually turn to bad habits. Sometimes I even promise rewards to encourage them continue their studies. For instance I promised one a bicycle provided that he studied hard. After that I sat down and thought how to raise the money to buy a bicycle. Then a friend of mine walked in, “Do you need anything?” he asked. “I promised one of my students a bicycle but I do not have the money to buy one” I immediately replied. Without a moment’s hesitation he just bought one. The same child said that he needed a computer a few years later. I promised to get him one if he achieved good results although I did not have the funds to buy a computer. This time around some one else came to my help and we managed to buy a computer. Now I promised the same child something even bigger. He asked for a motorbike. He is a high achieving intelligent and smart boy. He is the hero of my open-air school. Therefore I do my best to make sure he studies.”
While he tells that he cannot do anything more than teaching the school subjects to the children on the streets Muhammed Eyüp makes it obvious that he wants to do more than that. He constantly improves himself while trying hard to cover the entire school curriculum. Meanwhile he takes care of them like a brother.
“Who knows there are many out there that I don’t even know about” he says with concern. Everyday he restudies the subjects to update and improve his own knowledge so that he prepares his students to the future with the right qualifications. Believing that one should take the chance for education no matter where they are, Muhammed Eyüp turns streets to classrooms and parks to schools. Teaching with discipline requires not only compassion but also an educator’s professionalism. Muhammed Eyüp achieved both while also winning the hearts of the children. Although most of his students have to work they do not miss Eyüp’s classes because they are fully aware that the only thing that will save them from the streets is education.
His Children Follow in His Steps
Muhammed Eyüp from Pakistan received various reactions from the public during his voluntary activism all these years. Ironically his own government is among those that fail to appreciate his selfless efforts for educating children from the streets. The state intelligence followed Muhammed Eyup for six years until finally they have been convinced that his activities were harmless and gave him an appreciation award. Although many told him that he is crazy for doing all this without any financial gain Muhammed Eyüp never gave up or wavered from his cause.
In 2012 Firefighting Department awarded Eyup for his bravery in fire cases. Believing that his own life is no more precious than some one else’s Muhammed Eyüp received permanent burns during fire rescue operations. The children of this father of four also tutor the children without access to education in their village. So each is like a junior ‘Teacher Eyüp.’
When it gets dark Muhammed Eyüp teaches sitting under street lamps and during the day in the parks. He is the hope of many children without the means to go to school. Regardless of varying reactions of the folks both positive and negative Muhammed Eyüp will keep up his kindness as long as he lives.
Muhammed Eyüp set out in this journey with three students 32 years ago. Up until today he taught seven to eight thousand students. His current open-air classroom consists of hundred and seventy students. He explains his justification of his tremendous efforts for educating children of the streets:
“I never feel disturbed by the sweltering heat while teaching my subjects in the park during summer neither do I feel affected by cold during winter because I stand there with the intention and desire to serve human beings. So I have never taken heat or cold into account. Surely Allah does not let the efforts of the good doers go wasted…”