‘Malala of Umerkot’ heads to New York


UMERKOT: Aasoo Kolhi, also known among her people as the ‘Malala of Umerkot’, shed tears of joy at the prospect of leaving for the US to attend the world premiere of the documentary film He named me Malala. Directed by Davis Guggenheim, the film is about Malala’s life, from childhood till the attack on her by the Taliban.

A poor peasant girl who set up a school in her village of Meena Je Dhani, near Umerkot, Aasoo’s efforts attracted the attention of Malala Yousufzai who invited her to New York. She will also attend the launch of the ‘Stand With Malala’ campaign.

Aasoo is also to meet American President Barack Obama and is set to attend other educational events in the US, where she will share her experiences regarding girls’ education.

She spoke to Dawn about how no politician was ready to let her visit his office and offer her a job. She called it a day of joy to have been invited by Malala Yousufzai as she believes no one cares about the poor peasants, especially the scheduled caste like the Kolhis.

Aasoo said she was the only peasant girl from her village to have received formal education. “The Kolhis are marginalised and work in fields. As they have to keep changing their residence and landlords, their children are not enrolled in any school,” she added.

The week-long event will be held at the United Nations headquarters in New York and Aasoo is a special guest from Pakistan.

Aasoo told Dawn that it was only after the media recognised her efforts that the Sindh government announced their complete support for her mission. Government officials made several promises including making an announcement during the assembly session at the school that all students would be provided one meal a day.

The provincial government also promised the construction of a road to her village, a school building, an RO plant and two vocational centres for her village but nothing has been done as yet.

“Only one room has been made,” she told Dawn.

After being administered an injection by a quack, Aasoo became physically impaired at the age of five.

Her disability became the reason why her father decided to enrol her in a school as she was unable to work in the field and no one would be willing to marry her.

Aasoo’s older brother, Samero, will also accompany her and attend the events.

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