Usman was born into a family of twelve siblings in one of the toughest parts in the world - Mohmand Agency in Pakistan's tribal areas. Over five years ago, his family moved from FATA to a kachi abaadi - an informal settlement - on the outskirts of Islamabad. He had just started going to a low-cost private school near home when the authorities razed the entire settlement to the ground in a massive demolition drive by the city government.
Not only was he no longer in school, he also had to start working as a fruit vendor with his brothers to make some much-needed money for the family. It was here that our friends at the non-profit SPARC found him and brought him to our notice. We got him enrolled in our Fauji Colony school in Rawalpindi.
This school specialises in non-formal education for working children, covering basic primary education in an accelerated two year course. Now in the equivalent of the third grade, Usman spends three hours at the school every afternoon, working at the fruit stall the rest of the day. Seeing the value of education, he has brought many of his friends working at the fruit market to our school and encouraged them to enroll and finish the free primary education course.
Having a keen interest in entrepreneurship along with faith and confidence, Usman plans to one day establish his own fruit stall in the produce market."My education will give me an edge in many ways when I run my own business in the future," he quips with a smile.
Please consider donating to our project to enable bright young children like Usman achieve their goals in life through education!
Saif is a 12-year-old boy who lives in Pakistan's second-biggest city, Lahore. Three years ago, he was spending his days binding school textbooks and workbooks, something children in Pakistan get excited about before the start of every new school term. Unfortunately, Saif wouldn't get to read these books. He was doing this to make some much-needed cash to help his father who was struggling to support Saif's sister and three brothers on his uncertain earnings of barely a $100 a month as a labourer.
Our field team was lucky to find Saif and told him and his family about Paid to Learn, our accelrated primary school program for working children like him. They agreed to enroll him and today, after two years of hard work, Saif is a regular student at the Knowledge Inn School System, a private school near his house where he is shining in the 6th grade.
His passion for books and quest for knowledge meant he graduated at the top of his class after two years in our non-formal primary education program. This meant he qualified for our secondary school sponsorship program, through which he got placed in a mainstream private school where he continues to flourish in his studies.
Saif feels good about the fact that he is able to work and support his family alongside his studies. He wants to grow up to be a doctor so that he can treat the poor for free, showing he has an impressive commitment to service at a tender age. He is thankful to the trust's donors like yourself because of whom he is able to study in school. Please continue to support the education of budding superstars like Saif by donating to and spreading the word about this Paid to Learn program.
Last time we told you about expanding our free school breakfast
program to 200 more children at Khatoon-e-Pakistan Government Girls
School. This time we bring you updates exclusively from that school. In
the last quarter, fruits and vegetables were added in different dishes
served to students in an attempt to get students to develop healthier
eating habits. Fresh fruit with natural yoghurt was a new item added to
the breakfast for students and enjoyed by them. Whole wheat flour roti
(flatbread) was prepared for 200 students thrice a week with spinach
omelette, potato cutlets and stir-fried vegetables being rotated each
day. Pulses were added to the menu since they are a rich source of
protein and also familiar to the students being a staple at the dinner
table at home for most of them.
The school management and the
breakfast team re-assessed the breakfast menu for the winter with the
goal being that we should ensure that every breakfast meal served to the
students should be full of nutrition along with being healthy,
delicious and efficient to prepare and serve. At the beginning of
November, when the first of the cold Quetta winds arrived to Karachi,
our team decided to add a new dish in the menu called Upma. It has a
deep tradition in the sub-continent and is made from suji (semolina) and
yogurt which are blended together with egg. Some vegetables were also
added to make it more nutritional.
The students were not
very keen on this new item on day one but as their teachers coached them
about the nutritional value of an upma and encouraged them to give it a
chnce, they started developing a taste for it and even demanding it for
breakfast! This shows how much of an influence role models have on
students and demonstrates that teachers and parents can play a positive
role in shaping children's attitudes towards food preferences. This was
an exciting realisation for the team and all of us are now even more
motivated to explore variations of healthy meals to be added to the
school meals program.
It has also been observed that students
across the school have not been in a habit to eat a complete breakfast
and thus skip what we think is the most important meal of the day.
Teachers have to often force students to complete theirbreakfast in
the breakfast room. Keeping this in mind, the health teacher organized
interactive morning assembly presentations conducted by students of
multiple grades. Older students presented the importance of breakfast
through entertaining skits. Younger students from primary classes talked
about the nutritional values of different vegetables, pulses, fruits
and dry fruits. The audience was also asked questions to ensure that
they were actively listening and thinking about those benefits.
continue to support this program and share any ideas you may have for
affordable, local and healthy menu options as we establish this program
to fuel the brains that will shape Pakistan's future!
Author Name: Anam Palla, School Project Manager
Link: Zindagi Trust homepage