Sabbah Haji- A fresh whiff of change blowing across Kashmir


Sabbah Haji was born and brought up in Dubai where her parents had settled down after their marriage in the 80’s. Her only connection with her motherland, Kashmir was in the form of the fun-filled annual vacations which lasted for about two exciting months. Post 10th grade, Sabbah moved to Bengaluru and continued her education at Bishop Cotton and also took up a cushy job with a comfortable salary in the writing/editing sphere.

The transformation: One afternoon in 2008, Sabbah was at work and heard about rioting and casualties back home in her small town, Breswana in Kashmir. After speaking to her family there, Sabbah realised that she wanted to be with her family at that time and decided to move to Kashmir and headed back home. Sabbah’s family ran a charitable trust, Haji Amina Charitable Trust, which was funded by her uncle in Singapore, Nasir Haji and Sabbah took over the running of the trust on her return from Bengaluru.

Changing Gears: A family brainstorming session revealed that for any long-term effects to take place, they had to take the route of education and for this a full-fledged school was necessary. This is how Haji Public School was born in the winter of 2008. Sabbah’s management and accounting experience coupled with her mother, Tasneem Haji’s two decade experience as a teacher, became the starting point of this brave venture.

The co-operation of the locals was critical and Sabbah spoke to the locals and their children about the school that would be different from the Government-run schools and would focus on real education. Haji Public school began on 4th May 2009 with 30 students and two teachers appointed from the surrounding villages and initially ran from two rooms.

Dedication and a staunch commitment from Sabbah and her family with tremendous supports from the parents of their students, Haji Public Schools is now 250+ student strong, 15 teachers and is run from two huge school buildings with the best of facilities. Sabbah means “Gentle Breeze” in Urdu and she has indeed lived up to her name, blowing changes across the valley of Kashmir, using an extremely potent tool called education.

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