Casually flipping channels on TV, Javaid tells me with a nostalgic smile that when he was growing up, the small TV his parents had at home only aired one channel, PTV.
“Now, I have been interviewed by two channels, Aaj TV and Business Plus. Who would have thought that a small-town village boy would ever be on TV?” Javaid’s face glows as he narrates the story.
Growing up in a small village, Qalooburiro, near Dharki, the only thing Javaid remembers being passionate about was working – not as a plant technician or maintenance guy – but working as a manager at one of the Industrial set-ups in his hometown. Early on in school, he had found out that in order to be a plant operator in Fauji Fertilizer Company, Mari Petroleum or Engro Fertilizer he had to be at least an FsC graduate. However, in order to obtain a higher post, for example that of a General Manager or even a CEO, it was required that candidates graduate from university.
Thus, graduate from university is what Javaid’s aim was from a very young age. The fact that he was born to poor farmers who had no means to send their child to university was absolutely irrelevant; Javaid had a goal and he wasn’t one to give up.
“My teachers were a source of great inspiration to me. I had a Hindu tuition teacher, Ramesh Laal, who would charge Rs 200 a month. He was an excellent teacher and strengthened my base in mathematics. Never once did he shy from teaching me with the same vigour as he did other Hindu students. I was hard-working, and that was all he needed to teach me with even greater fervor.”
The real turning point in Javaid life, though, came when he got admitted into The Citizens Foundation School Engro Campus Dharki. In 2006, Javaid’s class was the first batch to pass the Matric exam from this branch of the school. Javaid himself was top of his class and a congratulatory meassure, Engro’s then CEO Asad Umar visited his school and awarded him with a certificate and a few other gifts.
However, the biggest present he left Javaid with was these few words,
“Keep struggling and keep studying.”
Now, more motivated than ever, Javaid got admitted in to the Shaheen Public Higher Secondary School of Maripur Mathelo. The fee was Rs 700 a month, but if you aced the bimonthly exam, you didn’t have to pay tuition fees for the coming two months. A man with a mission, Javaid made sure to secure the first position every two months and thus went by two years at the end of which Javaid topped the Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education Sukkur.
With an FsC degree in hand, Javaid could have easily joined any plant he wished as a mechanic or plant operator, but Javaid had seen the cars that people of higher posts drove and he had seen the respect everyone had for them. No. It was not time to give up. NED University had 18 seats for BISE Sukkur and one of them had Javaid’s name on it. Opted for and getting the only Chemical Engineering seat, Javaid left his small town and went to the big city of Karachi.
“I had to quickly learn how to be sharp and alert. People from villages are simple and honest, even if it hurts them, but people from Karachi are very clever. I had to learn to be the same,” narrates Javaid about his time in NED.
The fees was too much for his parents to bear, so his time in NED was funded in part by the profits from rice and wheat that his parents would sow, from an Engro scholarship and from an American scholarship called the Sindhi Association of North America.
Javaid graduated from what is arguably the toughest engineering program worldwide. What’s more, he was amongst the top 10 in his class.
“My parents cried, as did many other villagers. I am the first Chemical Engineering graduate in my entire village. No one believed it was possible, but anything is possible if you dream big,” related Javaid.
Javaid got many job offers, one even in Duabi, but he wasn’t about to leave Pakistan because something more beautiful awaited him in the country that had given him the Pakistani Dream. Engro Fertilizer hired him as a Graduate Training Engineer. Javaid is the first Chemical Engineer who has graduated from NED in the entire Dharki district.
On answering the question of what his next goal in life will be, Javaid smiles and says,
“To take my parents out for a drive in a car. We have never had a car, but very soon, I will be able to afford one.”
The moral? Dream big, even in Pakistan!