Continuing Malala's Dream - Educating Pakistan

 
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Nur Foundation (NF) with its’ mission to act as a catalyst of change to bring about socio- economic development of under-served communities, through an integrated approach to healthcare, education and economic empowerment runs several programmes in the health, education and social development sector. Under the Nur Community Outreach Programme (NCOP). NF runs schools in the outreach areas of Lahore. As of 2014, 18000 students from under-privileged backgrounds have completed their primary & secondary education. NUR Foundation School was also setup in the flood hit area of Haibat Mastui in District DG Khan and Muzaffargarh. Currently, 1850 students are studying in eight peri-urban areas of Lahore.

In the current state of the country, it is difficult to be hopeful. The story of Sadia is like light at the end of the tunnel. Sadia is currently studying in eighth grade at the NF school. Describing her socioeconomic status, Sadia said, “I am the eldest of seven children. My father is disabled and my mother is a domestic worker. It is extremely difficult for us to make ends meet. Sometimes we have to survive with eating just one meal a day. In the face of such circumstances, the fact that I am enrolled in eighth grade and not a victim of child labour is a miracle.” She continued, “This is a miracle that is called Nur Foundation, where I can quench my thirst to learn at no cost.”

Sadia  stated NF has made a difference in her life at the personal level. She reminisced the day when NF’s team of nutritionists came to the school and put up a free nutritional assessment camp. She reported “The team conducted nutritional screening and assessment. A lot of girls’ including me were found to be underweight and were given therapeutic diet counseling.” She continued to share that now she eats a healthier diet and advises her family to do so as well.

Sadia like other students is the vehicle to carry health promotional messages back home and the community. Nur Center for Research and Policy (NCRP), went one step further and conducted a health food fair on 24th February at the Fatima Memorial System. The entire purpose behind the health food fair was to promote healthy eating on low budget. Students from private schools and colleges with nutrition majors were invited to participate in a budget cooking competition. The students served the school lunches to students from the Nur Foundation schools and later distributed school lunch recipe books to mothers. Sadia shared her experience from the event in the following words, “It was a memorable day. We had such delicious school lunches made by the ‘Bajis’ and the best part was it was only worth Rs. 50/-. A team from Bunyad along with a gardener from the Fatima Memorial System educated us on how to plant seeds of different vegetables. As tokens we were all given packets of seeds of different vegetables of the season. I have planted those seeds in my courtyard at home and my family enjoys cooking and eating them.”

Malala Yousafzai
Malala Yousafzai

On 10th December, 2014 Malala became the first ever youngest person to be awarded the noble peace prize. The Pakistani born girl living in Swat, started with the small steps and a big dream to flourish the right of the children to get education, especially girls. But the burning ashes got the attention of the extremists who were not in favor of girls’ education. Despite the threats Malala continued to pursue her dream but on an unfortunate day the terror got with its evil wish and militants boarding her school shot her on the head along with two other girls. Luckily she survived the dramatic assault and made history. But the setback was not strong enough to shatter Malala’s dream in fact it provided her with the immense determination and fuel to work harder towards her goal. After she regained her health, she started to work with all her might to voice the right to get an education.

“One child, one teacher, one pen and one book can change the world” (Malala Yousafzai)

She can be called as the voice of all those suppressed and deprived of their rights and an activist for female education. Her courageous actions were recognized globally at every forum where she gained endless support and were closely tracked by the world media. It’s been three years to the plight and Malala’s torch has given light to so many deserving torches.

“This award is for all those children who are voiceless, whose voices need to be heard,” she said. “I speak for them, and I stand up with them.” (Malala Yousafzai)

Female education is a global plea which is heard and supported globally. Yet a lot more than just support is required to help out all the Malala’s in our country and to provide them with the resources to fulfill their zeal and zest to acquire an education and to earn a place amongst the learned.

We at NUR Foundation and Fatima Memorial Hospital congratulate Malala for being the pride of the nation and pursuing what she risked her life for. Her achievement is unparalleled and unequaled. We follow her dream to educate all the girls and light the beacon of knowledge. We need all the support possible. Our organization is aiding with your assistance all those needy children who have the hunger to learn and succeed in order to be the part of the mainstream. But it is only possible with your generous support as each penny counts. So please donate and donate to educate!   

“So let us wage a struggle against illiteracy, poverty and terrorism” (Malala Yousafzai)

Education is the first and foremost right of every human being. It is the most powerful tool an individual can have which can reap social & moral benefits for the society. Then why the most fundamental brick of a society’s is being deprived of it? Why 2 out of 5 girls in the third world countries are being destitute of their educational rights? According to the official stats, there are 160,000 schools in Pakistan out of which only 40,000 are catering girls. The NER (net enrollment rate) of Pakistan is 68% and GPI (gender parity index) 0.76 indicates that the ones who are not enrolled are mostly girls. The GEEI (gender equality education index) of Pakistan is only 0.20 which is lowest in the region.

Still in many countries focusing on Asia and Central Asia, girls are being deprived of their basic educational rights because of safety, financial and cultural barriers. Moreover if girls are attending schools their results are not satisfactory because of low motivation level or any other factor which holds them from attaining good quality learning outcomes.

Girl’s education has enormous benefits such as; an educated girl will utilize her abilities in the field of her expertise. She will work to earn and play her role in providing for her family which will ultimately raise their living standards and her role in contributing to GDP. Her education can delay her marriage and she is more likely to educate her children because she will be aware of educational importance. Another advantage can be that with the age the fertility rate drops and the awareness level about family planning increases consequently they will bear fewer children and live a healthy family life.

It is also important for an individual’s own development as every person carries a distinct personality but unanimous morals and values are carried out by the society, education will make the person more resilient and understanding to walk with different cultures and societies as our world is a global village and Pakistan is yet counted in the third world countries therefore, it is our responsibility to learn and to educate everyone, girls are given more emphasis because they are the one most ignored of this right.

We at Fatima Memorial Hospital and Nur Foundation are trying to make the utmost efforts possible, taking forward Malala’s dream, striving and educating as many girls we can. Our major fraction of focus is on providing complete financial relaxations to the Parents who are not able to pay their fees and all the accessories required by the students such as books, uniforms etc. each and every single effort counts, your support through us can unbolt such potentials that we cannot imagine. It’s a treasure, unexplored. Help us and make generous donation. Be the part of the noble endeavor.  Be a catalyst of change, and play your role in educating a girl child.

References:

http://www.unesco.org/education/efa/know_sharing/grassroots_stories/pakistan_2.shtm
EFA Global Monitoring Report: Will We Make it? Paris: UNESCO
Community commitments put girls in schools in rural Pakistan. http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/pakistan_13113.html
Stipend Programmes Rewarded with Success. http://go.worldbank.org/TXQ99GEZ60

Education is the backbone driving the society in this day and age. Unfortunately in Pakistan this backbone is rather weak due to non-availability of this blessing to the majority of the population, even when there are thousands of young minds ready to be taught and their talents ready to be taped. The dearth of this right is a consequence of various factors; poverty, outdated social norms and stereotypes being just the tip of the ice berg. One such story is of 14 year old Shumaila who rather than engaging herself in learning and the other normal things that children of her age ought to be doing was forced to take care of her family and work to make ends meet.               

Shumaila’s father Mohammad was a local carpenter in a small village near Vehari of Punjab Province and worked vigilantly to provide for his family. Unfortunately, during a construction project in a house there was an accident and his right hand was crushed under some falling debris. His hand was amputated and thereafter he was rendered unable to carry out his normal function. His physical weakness and inability to provide for his family made him a bitter man and thus he was unable to maintain a steady job anywhere. Seeing this little Shumaila along with her mother, decided to take matters into their own hands. Her mother started working as a domestic help and Shumaila worked from her home assembling decoration flowers in order to provide for her family (which includes two little brothers). As a result her education came to a halt. When our team at FMH system heard about her story through the outreach workers, they visited the household and after surveying the circumstances offered to provide for Shumaila’s basic educational needs. The family was overjoyed and agreed happily.

Now Shumaila is back in school and is aspiring to become a nurse as she was inspired by the circumstances in her house and wants to serve humanity. As the saying goes a child without education is like a bird without wings. Thanks to your contribution, this child has regained her wings and is now on her way to skies.

It is no easy task to pursue education in a country like Pakistan where education is considered a luxury for all children, but even more so for girls. The high costs associated with sending a child to school is one of the major barriers that stand in the way of a girl receiving education. Sadiqa is one such girl who had the mis-fortune to discontinue her studies and take care of her siblings when her father lost his job. She had to stay at home for almost half a year while her brother continued to go to school.

The Fatima Memorial Hospital team met with Sadiqa and inquired about her situation she said that when her father was able to find another job, she had expressed her desire to go back to school but her father wouldn’t let her go back because he said he couldn’t afford the educational costs of sending two children to school. The Fatima Memorial Hospital team requested Sadiqa’s parents to let her return to school, but her family especially her father relented. He said that as much as he would like to send her to school, it will be too much for his family to bear the cost of her uniform, textbooks, and bus fare. When the Fatima Memorial Hospital System team offered to take care of her finances and pay for the basic materials she would need to back to school, her family readily agreed to let her go back to school. Sadiqa said, “I can’t believe someone is willing to pay for my pens and books. I am very happy and feel like a free bird.”

Almost 5 months have passed and Sadiqa is regularly going to school. She wants to become a teacher when she grows up and teach other girls. She is a strong supporter of female education. Her class teacher, Uzma Naheed says that her academic performance is improving with each day.

Due to support of her teachers, Fatima Memorial Hospital and donors like you, we have been able to free this little bird and let her resume her flight.

Please join hands with us and give wings to many other birds like Sadiqa, who want to fly.

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Organization

Project Leader

Haroon Ihsan

Lahore, Punjab Pakistan

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