From a village with restricted access to education, and peculiarity associated with working women, Laghli Zamrud defied all odds and became the first midwife of Chitral.

Born in August 1949, into a male-dominated society, then starting her education in a school full of boys and restricted by her father to go to school at all, Laghli’s journey to acquire knowledge was not an easy one. However, Laghli was determined to change her fate. Even after being barred from school, she home-schooled herself till class eight, with the help of her brother’s school books. Seeing her passion, her brother-in-law convinced Laghli’s parents to let her continue her studies and helped her complete her matriculation.

Laghli’s life took flight when she was invited to Karachi in 1964, along with three other women, to represent the educated individuals of their valley, Chitral. These four passionate women were chosen to complete their two-year training in midwifery at Janbai Maternity Home, now known as the Aga Khan Hospital for Women and Children, Kharadar.

In 1967, Laghli completed her training and returned to Chitral as the first midwife in the region. Upon her arrival, she was posted in the Aga Khan Health Centre, Garamchashma with a salary of Rs100 per month. She recalls her early experiences of working in rural areas as extremely challenging, noting that health institutions at the time did not even have the basic equipment required by midwifes. Recalling those times, Laghli said, “When you meet the patient with a smile, you already relieve half of their pain.” These challenges strengthened her will to work; Laghli knew if she resigned, like other midwife, women who needed her would be abandoned. Hence, Laghli became the only midwife who continued working with the Aga Khan Health Centre, Garamchashma.

After serving for over 37 years, Laghli retired in August 2004. Her services were recognized by the Aga Khan Health Service, Pakistan and she was invited to the ‘Midwifery Graduation Ceremony 2003-2004’ as a guest and inspiration for aspiring midwifes. Laghli expressed her gratitude over the recognition and observed that it was nothing short of a ‘miracle’ that years after she was invited for her training, she was sitting in the same room as a guest.

Laghli Zamrud and her story became an inspiration for so many women in and from Chitral. Her passion and service are nothing but tremendous, and as in her own words, “The love I got from the people there (service areas) is unforgettable,'' she continued, “It is obvious that when you are in the Imam's institution, every little thing works in your favour.”