Remembering Our Appa
It was sometime in April 2017 when I first met her. Sheherezade Alam’s house was a masterpiece: a place where the east embraced the west. I shall never forget the heavy blue door and the beautiful, strong smell of roses on the stairs. It was a custom to leave shoes at the entrance and then take a journey upstairs, just as we do when we enter any holy place. Our houses are probably the most sacred places; these are not the buildings where we eat and sleep but rather a home where we nurture ourselves physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
When I first met Appa, I was drawn to her warm smile, sparkling eyes, ethnic dressing, beaded neck string for glasses, and her saying Adaab. Most importantly, we stayed connected because of her openness to welcome not just me but anyone with a passion for improving education for children. Within a year of our first meeting, her home became a monthly gathering spot for us to learn, discuss and plan holistic educational opportunities for children in Lahore.
We initially started as a reading circle. While we read the book Kindergarten Education by Betty Peck, it was Appa who realized that the issue in our education system is not just the course or the curriculum but the lack of good teachers in Pakistan. Hence, Waldorf Inspired Teacher Training – Pakistan was formed. Inspired by Betty, in one of our reading sessions, we even wrote about the qualities of a good teacher (See photos below). Later, she implemented this by reviving Jahan e Jahanara for kids in 2021, a much-needed initiative in the increasingly academic-focused education system in Lahore.
Appa was a mentor, teacher, and a mother-like figure in the truest spirit. Probably that’s why many young people used to meet her for professional counseling. She was one of the few people I was very excited to inform about starting One Earth Toys. She was our unofficial mentor who always gave ideas on the designs, marketing material, and how to design our wood workshops. Appa was the one who introduced us to Parwaaz – a project of Akhuwat Foundation, and pushed us to get their co-working space. We spent two and a half years at Parwaaz and conducted our initial wood workshops there.
Shehrezade Appa was more famous for her artistic skills in pottery. However, we will always remember her as an education enthusiast who devoted her last few years to providing a safe place for parents and teachers interested in the alternate education systems in Pakistan.
Khuda hafiz piyari Appa