From Rags to Riches

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Born in a penurious family, Muneer Alam worked as a labourer at a tender age of 13 to pay his school fees. As hardships took different forms, he began giving tuitions to survive. With his dedication and hard work, he has lifted his family from impoverishment and has become an inspirational figure, Ruwa Shah reports.Pulse

The old dusted staircase leads to a small room in old Srinagar city where Muneer Alam, 32, spends restless nights. Alam’s childhood is a story of misery and struggle but he has now managed to raise his family from penury with his relentless efforts and sheer hard work.

Born in a poor family which lived on the banks of Jehlum River near Maharaja Gunj, Srinagar, Muneer’s childhood was bereft of any happiness, “I used to look into the eyes of my father and feel the hardships from which we were going through,” Muneer recalls with his moist eyes.

His father was a naqaash (a craftsman who designed Kashmiri shawls) that earned him low wages to meet the expenses of his family which included his wife and three children. Although his mother also contributed to family’s income by spinning wool on yendar (spinning wheel) but their relentless crusade against poverty didn’t end. “I remember when my father sold the utensils from our kitchen in order to pay our school fees,” says Muneer.

At the age of 13 when he was in Class 7, he worked as a labourer and earned a few bucks to pay his school fees. Since he was admitted to a private school, it was difficult to pay the fee from his father’s meagre earnings. “I started to earn at an early age. I didn’t want to disturb my studies but the situation forced me to do so,” Muneer says.

His work didn’t disturb the course of his studies. He continued to study day and night. “The struggle of my father made me strong to withhold such things. After I qualified my matriculation, I started to teach my younger brother who was then in Class 6. That was the first time I taught someone. It certainly became the first step of the ladder in my career,” he says with a smile on his face.

When he gave tuitions to his younger brother and his friend, Muneer was studying in Class 11. Whatever little money he earned from home tuitions, he used it to pursue his studies in non-medical subjects. Although he was interested in literature but the conditions at home forced him to study engineering. “When I was in Class 11, the number of students I taught increased from two to four, whereas I was myself attending tuitions at two places,” he says.

Despite running a small tuition centre at home, he prepared for engineering entrance examinations. “I rarely slept for two or three hours during night and studied in rest of time. My hard work bore fruit and I got selected in National Institute of Technology, Srinagar for Bachelor of Technology in Civil Engineering,” he says.

At this time, the money Muneer earned from tuitions improved the economic conditions at home. “My mother had gone through tough times. I wanted to comfort my father and mother. Thus I worked hard by teaching students but I continued my studies as well,” says Muneer.

With this money, Muneer cleared the shares owned in his father’s property by his uncles and aunts at a small age. “It took me three long years to pay Rs 25000 to my aunt. It was only possible because of the hard efforts I made,” he added. Just after completing his B.Tech from NIT, he thought of extending the roll of students which increased from 4 to 40.

Later, he started teaching Mathematics to Higher Secondary students at “Er. Muneer’s Institute of Pure And Applied Mathematics.” A large numbers of students joined his classes and after three years, when Muneer has just begun to forget the hardships faced by his family, his father died at the age of 58 in 2006.

“Every responsibility was on my shoulders now. I had two young siblings. I was shattered for some time but my courage, determination and passion made me stand again”, he says. As of now, when the financial conditions had improved up in the family Muneer has brought his own property which comprises of 1.5 kanal land in Habak area of Srinagar on which he constructed his house which cost him about Rs 80 lakh.

“I am happy and satisfied that I did something for my family and brought them out of poverty”, he says with a smile of satisfaction on his face. Talking about his future plans, Muneer says that he wants to serve humanity on a broader scale and he has found no option better than teaching

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