Karachi

Every day, as the sun sets, Ruqia Abbas, a schoolteacher in Lyari’s Bakra Peri area, prays for the security of her students, hoping to see them in school the next day.

 

“I dreamt of being a professor when I was a child, so I could spread knowledge,” said Abbas. “My dream came true, but today, I’m worried for my own safety and that of my students, because violence has reached our doorstep, and our school is closed.”

 

Life in Lyari has come to a standstill, as a constant threat of violence lingers, and has permeated into every aspect of daily routine.

 

Two private schools in the Bakra Peri alone were seriously damaged in the ongoing conflict, and many others were forced to shut down.

 

Hundreds of students in Lyari are now unable to attend school. And no one knows till when.

 

“Young children have toy guns in their hands and they play fighting games, pretending to kill each other,” said Naveed Ghani, a resident of Lyari’s Kumar Wara locality. “I’m afraid that one day, they will be holding real guns.”

 

He said the constant presence of heavy armed gangsters in the area, and the sporadic killings have a negative and far reaching impact on young minds.“This violence that they’re witnessing all around them will continue to affect them for years to come. Their learning capacity has also reduced,” he added.

 

Deapite all this, young people are optimistic, but miss the little joys and celebrations of life.Laila Jan was dissapointed at not being able to celebrate her birthday with friends and family. “I have high hopes for the future. I dream of a free, secure and prosperous Lyari, where every one is happy.”

 

According to a 17-year-old Adnan Jameel, Lyari young people can play a key role in the country’s future. “We must study hard in order to rebuild our country, and make it a better place for coming generations.”

 

But in the face of intermittent violence, resilience and optimism only go so far. “It is affecting everybody’s well-being, and I don’t see improvements coming our way any time soon,” Adnan, a Nawalane resident said.

 

He also complained about power and water shortages in his area.Under these circumstances, the students’ dedication to pursue their education is inspiring. “I studied very hard for my exams, despite the violence and electricity cuts,” said Yasmeen Noor, student of Best Children School in Bakra Peri.

 

“I never realised the importance of security, till it was gone, now I know that nothing is more important than this basic feeling,” she said. “I dream of walking in safe streets and not worrying contantly that something bad might happen to my family.”

 

“For years we have been a witness to killings and explosions in Lyari, but nothing like this has happened before,” said a school teacher, refering to the current situation of the area. “The politicians are working for vested interests, and nobody is bothered about our plight.”

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