If you put your mind to something and work hard for it, you will succeed. 29-year-old Masrat Farooq from Srinagar has proved it.
Hailing from EidGah area of the old city, Masrat has become Kashmir's first education entrepreneur who presently teaches around 300 students with her own team of more than 80 teachers.
However, Masrat's journey to success hasn't been easy.
Though she has earned the title of being first education entrepreneur who runs smart classes home tuition center at Karan Nagar, she once lived in a two-room unplastered house and mostly studied by the light of a lamp.
"We didn't have a fan in our home and we were living in two rooms that were unplastered, one used for kitchen and when temperature used to increase we used to sleep on a terrace where I used to wait for a moon to offer me light for studies," Masrat told Greater Kashmir.
At times she said she studied even under the street lights to succeed.
Masrat did her schooling up to class 10th from York Public School and thereafter completed her 10+2 from Government Higher Secondary School Nawakadal.
She was interested in teaching from an early age and had started taking tuition of small kids when she was in her class 12th.Masrat worked at Libra English Academy as an English trainer and also worked at a school in Bemina for two months.
"I was working as a computer teacher in a school at Raj Bagh but after the pandemic I decided to do something of my own," she said.
Post abrogation of Article 370, Masrat remained confined to her home and got her attention towards the students switching to online mode of education."We have kids in our family as well. I observed that the students were not giving their 100 percent to the online classes and in a way their education was getting badly hit," she said.
In 2020, the Covid-19 outbreak created havoc throughout the world and hundreds of people were rendered jobless due to the economic crises in wake of the country wide lockdown. But God had something positive in store for Masrat Farooq when she decided to start home tuitions for kids.
"My mission was to safeguard the studies of the students amid the pandemic. To begin with i started teaching three kids of a doctor in the old city but with passage of time, the number of students increased to 20. This was the time to think of having a team with me to carry it forward," Masrat said.
With each passing day, Masrat was encouraged by her parents and other people from all walks of life to provide home tuitions.
Her passion for teaching coupled with the encouragement of parents, Masrat started her start up- Smart Class Home Tuition which she started in 2020 with a team of three teachers and around 20 students.
As the number of students continued to swell, Masrat hired more and more teachers to make her initiative a success.
"At present I have around 300 students enrolled and a team of 80 teachers who teach students. I provide free tuition to students who belong to the economically weaker sections and also bear their other education expenses as well. I am doing it for poor students because I do not want any of them to be a victim of poverty like me," she said.
During her childhood, Masrat faced abject poverty and had no time for playing like other girls of her age.
"When I used to see girls of my age playing, I never participated in the group but used to watch them wistfully," she said.
Masrat was sensitive from her childhood and always wanted to do something out of box to overcome the phase of poverty.
“My mother would always make me understand that our financial situation is difficult. That is why I started taking tuitions when I was in class 10th . It would help me to manage the financial crises and balance the daily expenditures of my home," she said.
While Masrat was already struggling to continue her studies, her father who was an artisan met with a fatal accident and became bedridden.
"At this stage I was pursuing my graduation and I was completely broken after my father's accident. His business had already witnessed a downfall and now he is bedridden which devastated me," she said, adding that one of her maternal uncles always stood by them during the tough phase and helped Masrat and her other Siblings to continue their studies.
Masrat, by her conviction completed her graduation from Government College for Women M A Road Srinagar and later completed her master's degree in Clinical Psychology from IGNOU.
Today Masrat has become a household name because of her struggle, hard work, conviction and her mission to impart education to students while providing jobs to the educated unemployed youth of Kashmir.
Recently, Masrat was declared as the youngest education entrepreneur of Kashmir by J&K Lieutenant Governor, who in his message said Masrat was an inspiration and was sure to guide the youth of Valley. She was awarded and felicitated at several occasions by the J&K LG besides Union Minister and other organisations as well.
Masrat has not established a full-fledged tuition centre but has also started two computer institutes as well.
"Government played a very supportive and positive role which encouraged me to hire more and more teachers and enroll more kids in my institute," she said.
Masrat is now planning to open a coaching centre at Chanapora- Smart Classes Career Institute where she will provide free coaching to BPL students and orphans.
Masrat believes that educated unemployed youth should not only wait for government jobs but should take advantage of all government sponsored schemes to realise their goal.
"When I started taking home tuition, I explored all the ways and means to make my initiative a success. As a child I was a victim of poverty. At this stage I am providing jobs to people who are earning a handsome amount per month," she said.