About Bakarwal Mobile School

Mustafa's day begins early as he finishes his third cup of chai, leaves the warmth of the fire and sets out with his family's flock of goats and sheep. He meets up with other nomadic shepherds who have come to the area for the winter months. An outsider would assume he is not paying much attention as he listens to static and occasional news on his small radio, but when the need arises he is quick to bring a stray goat back to the flock or bend down to pull a fresh thorn out of a hoof.

He spends each day this way, chatting with other shepherds when their paths cross, and returns to camp in the early evening as the sun sets behind the hills. After eating potato curry and rice, Mustafa pulls out a plastic bag and opens his copy of Sujri Lo, the 2nd year Gojri Reader published and distributed by the BMS program. With the help of a flashlight and a fire to keep warm he slowly works his way through the lesson of the day. His brother and BMS teacher, Haroon Qasim, answers his questions and helps him through the reading and writing portion of the lesson. Haroon then writes down math problems for his brother to solve, all of which he slowly figures out and answers correctly. When asked why he would spend his evenings this way he seems confused. “There is great benefit to learning to read and write,” he says, “I can make calculations in the market, read letters and documents from the government and even road signs.” His brother laughs, “Yes, sometimes we get lost on roads in the middle of nowhere and there are only signs to tell us where we are.” They also talk of the respect that also comes from knowing how to read and write.

Being nomadic shepherds in a rapidly changing and growing population often results in being viewed as backward and uneducated. By carrying on the family business during the day and studying through the Bakarwal Mobile School program at night, Mustafa is able to adjust to social changes while maintaining his family's identity as nomadic Bakarwals. There is frequent laughter as Mustafa and his sisters, also students in the BMS program, finish their lessons and chai before they go to their tents for the night.

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In the Beginning
A shepherds life
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