Sabbah Haji is the director of Haji Public School in a tiny village called Breswana in the Doda district of Jammu and Kashmir. She saw that nearly two generations of villagers had no education due to the apathetic attitude of the government and militancy. With the help of her parents, she set up this not-for-profit school in 2009.
Started in May 2009, the Haji Public School has just one objective – to impart knowledge to those children who cannot avail academic facilities similar to the ones in the cities.
Over the winter of 2008, Sabbah Haji and her mother, Tasneem Haji, trained two boys from the village into teachers. With no building, they worked out of two rooms in their ancestral house. They started at the ground level, teaching only the kindergarten students. With Sabbah’s strong and disciplined work ethic and Tasneem’s crucial 30 years’ worth teaching and school administration experience, they began with about 25 kids. Today, the school has its own building and now has over 350 students.
The cause was so strong that the villagers helped build the school brick by brick. Even if it meant carrying the materials for the school on their backs.
Today, Sabbah Haji updates daily happenings about the school and her village on “That School In The Village” and “Vice Village“. Sabbah Haji represents the school outside, on social media, and at various conferences. She talks about the school online on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram.
Sabbah raises funds through social media sites and invites volunteers to teach who live among the villagers and teach for a period of three months. Time is spent tirelessly through selfless efforts, hard work, and dedication students to erase negative impressions.
The volunteers are not paid, but they are provided with food and lodging. The first long-term volunteers were two young men, Felix and Azon, who stayed over three months each. Azon subsequently joined Haji Public School as a permanent member and was Deputy Director of School Operations for three years. Till December 2016, Haji Public School has had over 62 teaching volunteers from Canada, Singapore, the US, South Africa, France, and India. Several of them have returned for multiple long-term stints with Haji Public School since they find the work to be genuinely satisfying.