The pandemic has affected everyone in the country and we have all had to endure extraordinary circumstances. But it is especially difficult for those among us, like our SAARC students, who are separated from their families, living so far from home, and dependent on their hosts.
When I first started running the hostel in 2003, I had no specific experience. Luckily I had an organised temperament and, with the help and guidance of the Dean, Mrs Salima Hashmi, I soon became confident in my ability to take on this task. After a break in between, I returned to run the hostel last year, this time fully prepared.
My main concern was to try to make the isolation bearable for the students, whilst minimising the risk of exposure for myself and my family. I spent a lot of time with the students, resolving their problems, organising parties and filling the days with events. We introduced them to our local/religious feasts, rituals and traditions and they celebrated Eid, complete with Eidis. All this had to be done with appropriate precautions to protect everyone from the virus, but I generally tried to create a homely atmosphere and also prepared food at home. One of Mrs Hashmi’s friends, Mona Arman, lives on a farm close by. She was extremely kind and sent fresh vegetables and fruit from her garden to our SAARC students. She even started sending them biryani every Friday. All these little happenings and small everyday things made them feel more comfortable even in such difficult circumstances.
Looking after the welfare of the SAARC students is of course a team effort and I am grateful to the BNU family, the administration, and our Vice-Chancellor Shahid Kardar, for helping to maintain a peaceful and secure environment for these guests in our country. I am particularly thankful to Mrs Hashmi for making herself available at all times and providing advice and assistance whenever needed. The students are all now safely back with their families, with no untoward incidents during their stay, and this was only possible through the coordinated efforts of everyone involved.
Ghazala Ejaz Malik
Hostel Warden, UMISAA, BNU
Big lunch on Eid provided by Ms Ghazala & family to UMISAA Scholars
Group Photo with Ms Ghazala ( in centre ), UMISAA Hostel's Warden
Thanks giving cards by SAF Scholars
During lockdown Ms Ghazala arranged lunch for last two remaining Scholars at UMISAA, the lunch was provided by Ms Mona Arman