She renamed herself from Sultana to Shahin, after the Urdu poet Iqbal’s favourite bird. She wrote three outstanding books, mentored hundreds of students, and inspired thousands more. This is Shahin Moidu’s story…
People like Shahin Moidu are rare. She does not have a formal education. Yet she started Hyderabad’s third pre-school Shahiniketan and the city’s first crash-course in teaching and a summer school back in 1974. But, amazingly, she would rather people remember her not as a teacher, but as a person.
Coming from a broken home, Shahin could only study till Class IV. Yet she hoped to become a teacher inspired by her uncle who was a lecturer at Nizam’s College. “Many students would come to my uncle’s home,” she reminisces about the days at her uncle’s house where she grew up. “He made learning fun. I wanted to be a teacher since then. It is because of my uncle I am what I am today.”
“My uncle would tell us, ‘When you educate a man, you educate an individual. But when you educate a woman, you educate a nation’,” she remembers fondly.
So how did Shahiniketan happen? “When my husband, an army man, passed away, I was a penniless widow,” she recounts. “The army pension took a long time to come. So I enrolled for a teacher’s training course in Purani Haveli and after four months, the director, Dr Vakaria, offered me a job there. But travelling from Banjara Hills to Purani Haveli wasn’t practical. That is when and how Shahiniketan took shape.”
Shahin has mentored several successful educationalists including Anjum Babukhan, founder of one of Hyderabad’s top school, Glendale Academy. Yet she says humbly that they are her mentors.
“While training to being a teacher, I was always marked ‘average’, ‘fair’, etc, by Dr Vakaria,” says Shahin. “I failed to understand why, as I was working really hard.”
But when Shahin invited Dr Vakaria to Shahiniketan for an annual day function, she got, maybe, her biggest compliment. “He told me then that he found potential in me and wanted to encourage me further,” says she. “He was my mentor, but that day, he told me that I had become his mentor. It was very touching. Everybody whom I have taught have taught me much more in return. They are my mentors now.”
Shahin recalls an incident where she was invited by Anjum Babukhan to a workshop for parents. “We were taught we mustn’t be harsh with children,” she says. “I learnt a lot from that workshop. That same day, my son called from the US, after three months. Usually, I would taunt him and scold him. But this time, I spoke to him well and he was quite surprised. He asked me, ‘Maa, are you all right?’”
Shahin has never been attracted to money. She sold her preschool for a nominal amount and started Shahin Education Trust to fund higher education for girls. “I have made 27 girls stand on their feet,” she says proudly.
Shahin loves reading and writing and has written three books: Story of my life, Woman of courage and Memorable years at Shahiniketan. What led her to it? “My first book, Story of My Life was based on a belief; The fire that melts the butter should make the steel stronger. Many girls complain that their parents did not give them education. But I managed to complete my graduation,” she said.
Shahin says she is a satisfied woman. “I have done everything I wanted to: I opened a preschool… I wrote books,” she says. “God has given me everything.”
I am a satisfied woman as God has given me everything,” she said. The difficulties that she faced in life haven’t left her bitter, but have made her victorious. Truly inspiring.