Zindagi Trust

Our mission is two-part: 1) To provide non-formal primary education through a creative, well-designed curriculum to Pakistan's underprivileged working children, thus empowering them to become responsible citizens as well as readying them for vocational or secondary education. 2) To assist the Government of Pakistan in reforming state schools and curricula so as to bring them at par with the challenges of present time, so that the majority of the country's youth that studies in them can get an equal opportunity at a bright future.
Feb 14, 2012

Street children design and write for change, learn to love their environment & get health insurance

A big thank you to our supporters for making our work with hundreds of fascinating children possible! We've been busy with some fun activities since our last update in November: letter-writing competitions, environmental awareness week, the Design for Change Pakistan competition (which most of this update is about), national days commemorating the nation's forefathers, Iqbal and Jinnah. We also introduced health insurance for our students and ended the year with a results and awards day for the students and the teachers. We hope you enjoy the latest highlights from our schools:

Design for Change Pakistan

In November, we told you about our students entering the Design for Change Pakistan contest - a competition of social change imagined and effected by children across the country. The results are out and the stars from the street have dazzled again. 

Students from 16 of our schools for child workers brainstormed and submitted their ideas to transform their communities. 35 winners were selected from thousands of entries from across Pakistan and students from 3 of our schools in Karachi's urban slums won in multiple categories for these projects:

Kam Umri Mai Shaadi Ki Rok Tham (Stop Child Marriages)
Disturbed by early marriages in their community, where children are forced into early marriages, students at Zindagi Trust Drigh Road, Karachi decided to approach and talk to parents yielding to this practice. By highlighting the damaging effects of early marriages not only to these parents but also to the local village council, the students convinced them to end the practice child marriages and encourage everyone in their community to wait till a more mature age to get married. This project won in the Boldest Idea category.

Taleem ki Ehmiat (The Importance of Education)

Students from Zindagi Trust’s school in Manzoor Colony, Karachi were upset with poor families like their own forcing children to work instead of sending them to school. They took on the challenging of convincing the parents of one child from their neighbourhood to send him or her to school.

These children themselves work for most of the day, so they understood the context of families who chose work over school for their children. They scoped the streets for children like themselves, convinced them to attend school and then encouraged them to bring their parents to the school to meet the teachers. A detailed discussion with the parents concluded with a major breakthrough, and the team was successful in enrolling their first friend from the street, Ali, into school on the first day. This project was selected as one of the top 5 in the Quickest Impact category.

Saaf Paani-Sehatmand Zindagi (Clean Water - Healthy Life)

Having recently learned that water-borne diseases were the major reason behind the high absenteeism rate at their school, students from Zindagi Trust Zia Colony School, Karachi came together to tackle the problem of unclean and unsafe drinking water in their neighbourhood. A door-to-door campaign followed to awaken the neighbourhood to the health hazards of consuming the unclean water currently being supplied to them. The students educated each household about the basics of boiling water and readying it for consumption. This project won in the Maximum Potential for Lasting Change category.

More than 5000 schools participated in the competition, which aspires to foster a new generation of hopeful Pakistanis who can be change-makers and future leaders of our country. The top projects were also featured in a traveling exhibition in January chronicling 2011’s winning stories of change. Our students were excited to present their work alongside students from 35 different schools whose winning stories of change were selected from 7000 entries from all over Pakistan. We hope our children continue to dream big! Thanks to Syed Iqbal Ahmed, Education Coordinator and Jahanara Shiraz, Head of Academics for their input on this effort.

Other goings on at our schools:

  • Health Insurance was provided to the students and teachers of our schools in partnership with a social enterprise called Naya Jeevan, and an interactive workshop for both parents and teachers was held to educate them on how to use their insurance cards, etc.
  • An Environmental Awareness Week was held across all our schools to inculcate environmental awareness in our young students who spend most of their days on the street. Colour Day was one of the events of this week where children were brought close to nature by exploring the colours in their environment
  • Iqbal Day was celebrated by the children by reciting his poetry, performing tableus on his work and remembering his contributions to the founding of Pakistan.
  • Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of the nation, was celebrated on his birthday on the 25th of December.
  • Results and Awards day was held to mark the end of the term where top-performing students, teachers and schools were rewarded and the academic calendar for the next term was planned.
  • Our students from the Karachi region won a special prize in a nationwide letter-writing competition on dreams and aspirations. We were psyched for them because they were the youngest contestants in the contest which was open to all ages.


Get in Touch!

Please let us know what you thought of our programmes. We would love to hear your feedback about more events and activities that we can organize at our school, so if you have an idea about something our children would enjoy, please write to us - leave a comment here, shoot us an email, or catch us on Facebook or twitter! Thank you for reading and have a lovely day.


Jan 3, 2012

Star student from the street dreams of medical school

Husna with her family
Husna with her family

Husna Yaseen graduated from our primary education programme for children who are forced to choose work over school. She did so well that she made the cut for top graduates who are selected to be sponsored for secondary education (beyond the 6th grade) in a mainstream school. 


At our Lahore region primary school imparting non-formal education to working children, Husna was an eager student and dreamed of becoming a doctor. Upon graduation from the primary programme, she was enrolled in a school of the Hamza Girls School System at Chungi Amar Sidhu, Lahore. This admission was entirely on merit - she performed exceptionally well on their admission criteria and was awarded a seat at the school. This itself was an achievement for Husna, given the vast disparity in her background (socioeconomic status, years of education, standard of education) and that of the average student applying to a private school. 


Husna comes from a very humble background. Her father is a poor street vendor who struggles to feed his family of seven (He has two daughters and two sons in addidtion to Husna). Being the eldest of five siblings, Husna bears the additional burden of supporting her mother in housework, but her passion for learning can be gauged from the fact that she still helps to tutor her siblings in her free time.


Husna is very serious about her studies and her goals - she is working hard in school today to be able to become a doctor one day. Her committment in the face of adversity is impressive and we wish her all the luck. 


We hope to continue to sponsor secondary education for Husna and other star students like her, and we thank our donors for their generous support in making this possible!
Husna at a lesson at school
Husna at a lesson at school
Husna in class
Husna in class
Husna at work to support her household
Husna at work to support her household
Husna studying at home
Husna studying at home
Dec 27, 2011

Self Service and other changes to the Breakfast Programme

Children in the Breakfast Room
Children in the Breakfast Room

Self Service and other changes to the Breakfast Programme


After the admission of some new students in mid-November, the daily breakfast programme for kindergarten students at the SMB Fatima Jinnah Government Girls School has grown to support 231 students from KG 1 and KG2. As a result of the increase in student strength along with inflationary pressure in recent weeks the cost of the programme has increased to around Rs. 16,000 per week.


The major expenditure on the breakfast programme consists of milk and eggs:

Milk: Rs. 2756 @ Rs. 800 per carton

Eggs: 13 dozen @ Rs 90-95 per dozen


As always, the breakfast menu includes milk, flavoured with Rooh-Afza (a local rosewater flavouring), and fresh fruit/vegetables/eggs etc. depending upon the season. The current menu has been winter-ized and boiled eggs are back, which the children really enjoy in the chilly mornings. Other items that make an appearance on the menu include apples, bananas, bread and butter, boiled potatoes and hot noodles.


The breakfast programme has had a positive impact on the health of the young students. Where previously we saw kids passing from weakness or malnourishment and reporting to the health room, the school nurse reports that the incidence has decreased since the advent of the breakfast programme. She also reports that allergies and fever complaints have reduced, indicating that the nourishment at the start of the day helps to prevent children from catching infection from each other.


Recently, a self-service initiative was started in the Breakfast Program to have the students serve themselves. This helped them learn the concept of waiting their turn in line in a disciplined yet friendly atmosphere. The little children, who were previously helped with every little step from being given a filled plate to being sat in their chairs, are really enjoying this new independence. They walk into the breakfast room, pick up their breakfast from the counter, carry it to their seats and clear their tables after they are done and they enjoy performing each of these steps on their own with lots of energy and excitement. This added spring in their steps at the start of the school day goes a long way!


They also learn basic dining etiquette as well as the importance of good and timely nutrition. They have also been taught to make it a habit to thank God before and after their meal. Most of these things sound pretty basic, but many of these children had never used a napkin while eating and had no idea that used tissue paper, for example, needed to be binned properly in a trash can, so teaching them these little things from an early age has become an important part of the breakfast programme.

Children lining up to get breakfast
Children lining up to get breakfast


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