Arab Shah, a 33-year-old Pakistani rickshaw driver in Peshawar emerges as a silent hero, providing free transport services to 300 schoolgirls, ensuring every girl has access to education.
Recognized globally, Shah’s mission gains support from Malala Yousafzai and her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, with Malala commending him for his efforts in advancing girls’ education.
Arab Shah’s journey, evolving from a rented rickshaw to an operation with an auto rickshaw and four Suzuki vans, reflects his dedication to breaking barriers, earning him accolades and inspiring a vision for broader implementation to address the education gap in Pakistan.
In Peshawar, Pakistan, a silent hero named Arab Shah, a 33-year-old rickshaw driver, is making waves by providing free transport services to 300 schoolgirls in his rickshaw. His selfless mission aims to ensure that every girl has access to education, breaking barriers by doing so.
A Noble Initiative by Pakistani Rickshaw Driver, Arab Shah
Pakistani rickshaw driver, Arab Shah’s journey began with a personal regret – the inability to support his five sisters during their school years. Fuelled by this remorse, he initiated a free transport service using a rented rickshaw. Over time, his humble endeavour evolved into a significant operation, now involving an auto rickshaw and four Suzuki vans, facilitating the transportation of hundreds of girls to and from school.
Local Hero Gains Global Recognition
Arab Shah’s extraordinary commitment has not gone unnoticed. His work has garnered praise from the renowned Pakistani women’s education advocate, Malala Yousafzai, and her family. Inspired by Shah’s story, Malala and her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, reached out to offer support, emphasizing the importance of Shah’s mission in ensuring girls receive an education. Malala is a renowned advocate of Girls’ education and has appreciated Arab Shah for his efforts.
Girls in Pir Bala Thank Shah for Helping Them Pursue Dreams
In Pir Bala, Madiha Banat, a 10th-grade student facing financial constraints after her father’s passing. Fondly calling Shah “Bhaijan” (Dear Brother), Madiha expresses gratitude for five years of free transportation, enabling her to pursue her dreams without financial obstacles.
Another student, Salma Khan, acknowledges Shah’s role in addressing transportation challenges, emphasizing the supportive community Shah has created for these aspiring learners.
Arab Shah’s Journey as Pakistani Rickshaw Driver Providing Free Transport
Arab Shah’s journey started with a single rickshaw in 2014, ferrying a handful of students from impoverished neighborhoods. Recognizing the increasing need for transport, Shah expanded his mission. His story gained attention, attracting financial support from the Yousafzai family, enabling him to acquire an auto rickshaw and four Suzuki vans.
Currently, Arab Shah operates 15 shifts in the Suzuki vans and 10 in his rickshaw, offering free pick-and-drop services to school and university students. Additional vehicles, managed by paid drivers, contribute to the sustainability of the initiative. Shah’s relentless efforts continue late into the night, navigating the streets of Peshawar to sustain his fleet amid economic challenges.
Recognitions and Future Prospects
Arab Shah’s impact extends beyond his community. In 2020, he received recognition from Zia Ullah Bangash, a former education adviser, highlighting Shah’s dedication. Ziauddin Yousafzai expressed his inspiration, advocating for the expansion of Shah’s initiative to remote areas and urging government support for a broader implementation.
A Vision for Change
Malala’s father envisions a transformative ‘Arab Shah Transport System’ to address the staggering 22 million out-of-school children in Pakistan, with 12 million being girls. He emphasizes the need to break patriarchal traditions and underscores the importance of supporting women in their educational and career pursuits.
In the words of Ziauddin Yousafzai, “The world has reached the Moon, and here we are still discussing whether women should be allowed to leave their homes. We should support our women in obtaining education, pursuing careers, and achieving their dreams.”
Arab Shah’s story stands as a testament to the transformative power of one individual’s determination to break barriers and make education accessible to all, especially girls in Pakistan.