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Mama Parsi School 90 years | St Joseph's Convent bids farewell

Mama Parsi School celebrates 90 glorious years
Karachi, April 02, 2008: Educating girls was a priority of the progressive Zoroastrian community of the city and it has been proved by the 90 glorious years of the school that has chartered the educational course in a magnificent way.

Ms Z T Mavalvala, Principal of Mama Parsi School, proudly claimed the distinction on Tuesday - the occasion of the celebration for completing 90 years of its existence. The school was founded on April 1, 1918 to cater to the needs of Parsi girls of Karachi. She was proud of the fact that her school had struggled hard to maintain its high standards and produced students who were asset to the country and pride to their parents. She acknowledged the contribution of her devoted staff and the students who were keen to acquire the knowledge.

They had a boys' school, the BVS Parsi School, which was founded in 1870, but since there wasn't a separate school for girls, the founding fathers of The Mama School decided to open a girls' only school. Initially, classes for girls started in 1918 in BVS School, but after a year the girls' school moved to Mama Mansion opposite Zainab Market. This building is nowadays known as the Haq Building. The school was shifted to the present location on M.A. Jinnah Road on April 1, 1925 with 70 girls on its roll. Quaid-e-Azam requested the school management to open the gates of the school for Muslims too. From that time onwards, the school has been educating girls of all faiths without any bias or prejudice.

A 'Mehfil-e-Milad' was organised for the Muslim staff and students of the school, while the Parsis attended a 'Jashan' (a religious ceremony to celebrate an auspicious occasion.) The Jashan was attended by the Chairperson of the School, Dr Banoo Mama, the Principal, Ms Z T Mavalvala, the members of the School's Managing Committee, the Parsi staff and students and the guests. A documentary on the achievements of The Mama School was shown to everyone present at the celebrations. Gifts were given to every student, and the guests were served with refreshments.

The guests included the Chairperson of the School, Mrs Banoo Mama; Mrs Dinoo Mistry, ex-Principal of the B V S Parsi School, Mr Behram D. Avari, Chairman of the Parsi Anjuman Society, Mr Ardeshir Cowasjee, the renowned columnist and Mrs Kermeen Parakh, Principal of The BVS Parsi School. Members of the Parsi Banu Mandal Society were also present to witness the celebrations. The News

St Joseph's Convent bids farewell to stalwart custodian after 44 yrs
Karachi: St Patrick's Cathedral filled with the nuns from St Joseph's Convent High School, its staff, alumni, and the family and friends of gatekeeper Francis Barkat to bid him a final farewell Tuesday afternoon. He passed away at the age of 69 Sunday night after a prolonged illness.

"If he didn't show up for work or mass, we knew it was only because he had fallen ill," said STJ Principal Sr Julie Pacheco while eulogizing his 44-year-old services at the school. She recalled how he knew each and every schoolgirl, her class, her parents and even their drivers. Their safety was ensured as long as Francis was at the gate.

It was under his hawkish eye that thousands of school girls have streamed past the gates of the convent. Once, in an isolated incident, one student tried to leave in a burqa after changing out of her uniform. But for some reason Francis knew something was amiss and he stopped her at the gate.

"Once a girl's new driver came to get her but because Francis didn't recognize him he refused to let her leave school," recalled senior English General and Literature teacher Faiza Kazi after the funeral. The student assured him that the driver was indeed hers but Francis would not budge. It was only after she was marched to the office and a phone call was made to her parents confirming the man's identity that Francis relented. "The CIA should have hired him," Kazi quipped, "they would have found Osama bin Laden."

Sr Julie said during the service that Francis had been like a "walking talking encyclopedia", which is how Kazi also describes him. Whether it was help going to the police office, passport office or simply to call a linesman, Francis was the right person to ask as he seemed to have the answer for any kind of problem in which someone needed to be contacted.

His tall loping frame was a fixture at the gate for years and the thousands of hours in the sun had left him with deeply grooved chestnut tan. He managed traffic before the first policeman was ever assigned to the neighbourhood and he bore the madness of chutti time with patience few gatekeepers have today. "He never lost his temper," recalled Durriya Kazi, adding that she also admired how he was never rude in all the years she had seen him. And despite knowing the influential parents of many students, he never demanded favours. "At the most, he would call out, 'Mithai nahi khilai?' as we passed by," Durriya Kazi said, referring to how he would jokingly ask them to treat him for exams passed and the small successes of life.

Even if he didn't know a girl's name, he would know her by some other marker, perhaps her father's profession or her mother's name if she had been a student there as well. According to Durriya Kazi, Francis would refer to her daughters as 'Durriya' as well. Two alumni, Zairah and Sanam, who went to St Joseph's with their three sisters, recalled how he would call all five of them 'Doctor Saheb' because their father was a surgeon.

After the funeral, senior teachers Shafiqa Fikree and Fawzia Fikree joined the Kazi sisters Muna and Durriya to recall how the younger grounds staff at the convent looked up to Francis as a role model. "They have all been sad since he fell ill," Ms S Fikree said. They are perhaps wondering how they will fill his shoes. And if any schoolgirl or alumni were asked, they would probably say St Joseph's Convent will never again have a custodian as protective as Francis Barkat. Daily Times

Your Comments
"I LOVE MY SCHOOL AND MY TEACHERS.IWISH I COULD SEE MY SCHOOL AGAIN.MANY TIMES I SAW IT IN MY DREAMS,WHERE I USE TO SIT BREAKTIME,MY TEACHERS,MY CANTEEN.ETC ."
Name: MUNAZZA ZAHEER
Email: sammmies111@yahoo.com
City, Country: khi pakiatan

"I have no more information about this school but i wish i coud work there."
Name: Naheed
Email: veniza_khan2007@yahoo.com
City, Country: karachi, pakiatan

"I LOVE MY SCHOOL VERY MUCH!!!ITS TOTALLY AWESOME....I LOVE ALL MY TEACHERS AND SISTERS MOSTLY SR.JULIE PACHECO....IF I WOULD START PRAISING ABOUT MY SCHOOL THEN IT WOULD NEVER EVER FINISH THATS ALL I CAN SAY IS...!!! "
Name: rabia asrar
Email: happylark_10@hotmail.com
City, Country: karachi, pakiatan

"oh imiss my school days there is nothing much more worth missing thoes days and friends "
Name: humera nawab
Email: hiamy2k@live.com
City, Country: saudi arabia

"I love my school more than anything else in the world. Our school is the best in the whole of Pakistan.:) "
Name: Hafsa Ishaq
Email: friendlyhafsa@hotmail.com
City, Country: Karachi, Pakistan

"i want phone number of your school[mama parsi]"
Name: rida
Email: ridasaleem@hotmail.com
City, Country: Karachi, Pakistan

"I JUST ST.JOSEPHS! ITS THE BEST SCHOOL IN KARACHI! I JUST WANNA SAY THAT I DONT HAVE WORDS 2 DESCRIBE IT! AM PROUD 22 B A JOSEPHIAN! I JUST PRAY 2 ALLAH THAT MY SCHOOL B ALWAYS THERE 2 EDUCATE THOUSANDS OF PAKISTANI GIRLZZZ!"
Name: BARIAH
Email: hussainkausar@yahoo.com
City, Country: KARACHI, PAKISTAN

"i just love my school....hoping for more good progress in future"
Name: anusha syed
Email: poisonous_lizard@hotmail.com
City, Country: karachi,pakistan

"I love my school, its the best school for girls in history. I am glad I studied in this esteemed school and so are my proud daughters...love you St. Josephs"
Name: Tania Lobo
Email: tania.pereira@citi.com
City, Country: Khi, Pakistan

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