Following the loss of humanitarians extraordinaire Abdul Sattar Edhi and Dr Ruth Pfau within a span of a few months, Pakistan has lost another one of its hidden gems. Leelavati Harchandani, commonly known as Dadi Leela, remained a devoted advocate for girls’ right to education throughout her life spanning over a 100 years. Born on December 201, 1916, Dadi Leela passed away on September 14, 2017 following a prolonged illness.
She graduated from Government College Hyderabad, first founded as Sindh National Arts College in 1917. Leela’s love for music led her to becoming a music teacher soon after. She also worked as the additional director of schools for Hyderabad until 1975. She sang for Radio Pakistan as well.
Another testament to her love for encouraging girls’ education is the fact that her empathy was unlimited. When she taught at the Training College, Leela used to house students who could not afford accommodations in college hostels at her place free of cost.
Besides, Leela was also among the founding members of the Ladies Club Hyderabad. The club was founded to promote social, literary, cultural and educational activities among the members.
She also remained associated with the Girl Guides, remaining the deputy and then provincial commissioner for the body. The much revered educationist also became a member of the Sindh Assembly in 1985 and remained dedicated to promoting girls’ education across the province. She kept visiting various towns and villages in order to urge women and girls to pursue education.
It’s unsung heroes like Dadi Leela that have enriched the life of thousands of individuals with their devotion. The nation has truly lost a century of care, a century of love and a century of concern. And only those who experienced Dadi’s tender touch can understand the loss.