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A Himalayan village under Rowling’s spell after writer replies to young fan’s wish to meet her

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A write-up by Kulsum Banoo Batt about her desire to meet Rowling was shared on Twitter by her teachers and caught the author’s attention.

New Delhi: A little bit of social media magic was all it took for a 12-year-old aspiring writer from a remote Jammu village to charm her favourite author, J.K. Rowling, the creator of the beloved Hogwarts universe.

A write-up by Kulsum Banoo Batt about her desire to meet Rowling was shared on Twitter by her teachers and caught the author’s attention. Then, Rowling replied, and an entire Himalayan village was moved.

Kulsum, part of her family’s first generation to learn English, is a student at Haji Public School, located in Breswana, a Chenab valley village 7,500 ft above sea level in Doda. She wrote the note in a school notebook.

“I am not inspired by J.K. Rowling only because she writes well also because she has come through many difficulties but she didn’t give up. May Allah bless J.K. Rowling and give her a long life so that when I grow up I want to meet her (sic),” she wrote.

One of her teachers posted the message on Twitter, the corrections to the note’s grammar marked in red.

The school’s director, Sabbah Haji, retweeted it, tagging J.K. Rowling and requesting that she visit the school some day.

“Dear @jk_rowling. Kulsum, 12, a first generation English learner from the Himalayas would like to meet you someday. So come visit us at Haji Public School,” she tweeted.

Rowling’s reply took everyone by surprise: “Please can you send me Kulsum’s full name by DM? I’d love to send her something.”

The reply triggered celebrations among Kulsum and her classmates and teachers.

“You are wonderful… Shoutout to the very gracious J.K. Rowling. This tweet framed for ever in our school hallway,” Haji tweeted.

As Rowling’s reply went viral, Haji also shared a photograph of Kulsum and her classmates, leading writer Shireen Ahmed to comment: “May Allah bless J.K. Rowling.”

The school

Haji Public School, non-profit charity school, was set up in 2009 by Haji, who grew up in Dubai, as the first initiative to provide quality education to children in her village, Breswana.

By setting up good schools in the region, the Haji family intends simply to make education accessible to the inaccessible. “The thought was to start education in a village that has not seen education for 30 years. There are government schools but level of education is negligent, it is horrific,” Sabbah said at a TeDTalk in 2015.

Sabbah established the school with the help of her family, and used social networking sites, mainly Twitter, to attract volunteers to teach at the school. Sabbah also raises funds through social media.

The school now has over 450 students, a permanent local staff of more than 20 teachers, and a running roster of dozens of Indian and international teaching volunteers.

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