He was in his early teens. The tallest boy in his class (Grade 5). Very skinny, but so bright. He loved every opportunity to go on stage and perform. He was one of my 8-Day Academy graduates–from the first batch of children I had taught.

On February 21, 2010…he committed suicide. He jumped into a well. There are many versions to the story, but the main one says that he was deeply upset the last three months because of his uncle who had died. Unable to deal with the grief, he jumped into the well. Within minutes, he was gone.

His death shook me to the core. I was proud of my 8DA graduates and some of them had confessed that they were at the verge of suicide but participating in the 8DA changed their outlook on life. I felt happy and humbled and somehow I thought that whoever had been a part of the 8DA, had been saved.

Bilal proved me wrong. He taught me so many lessons. But is it always necessary to learn lessons at someone else’s expense?

I realised how the 8DA needs to incorporate some form of ‘continuous learning’ so that children have the strength to deal with growing up. Most of us live in a culture that encourages burying emotions and tells boys that crying is a sign of weakness and not for them.

Bilal is always on my mind. I don’t think I will ever emerge from the disturbing feeling of what goes on in a child’s mind that he has to take such a drastic step. The well was so deep; was the pain in his heart deeper than that?

He was a star and I want him to be remembered as one. His death was a sad point but it will encourage some wonderful work which will save lives of many children. It’s my promise to him.

  1. Lys from @womenadvocates on twitter said:

    Thank you for showing the dignity of this talented young man. The tragedy in the loss of Bilal is something we need to remember. All children are our treasures. Your promise to Bilal to expand your work in "continuous learning" by offering youth support and strength is vital and important.

  2. Lys from @womenadvocates on twitter said:

    Thank you for giving dignity to this talented young man. All children are our treasures. Thank you for keeping your promise to Bilal, to expand your work w/ "continuous learning" w/ your support in helping to give strength to youth. This is so vital and so important.

  3. Asma said:

    May Allah give patience & stronger Iman to all those who knew Bilal to cope with his loss.

  4. jms0921 said:

    This story is one that needs to be heard. It needs to be shouted to the rooftops to wake people up that think the our youth is just supposed to "handle" everything that is tossed their way. Bilal has put a face on the pain that so many, many youth, boys and girls, suffer without saying a word to anyone. This world needs people who are willing to step in the way you do with your 8DA program, and yes, it needs something more on a continual basis to save those kids that are in deep pain. The loss of Bilal is not going unnoticed. It’s a cry for help. It goes out to all of us that care about our youth and what they have to bring to the future. Without them, there is no future. Get involved.

  5. Susan Macaulay said:


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