Arooj is a teenager from Lahore with big dreams. A high achiever and a go-getter, she finished our accelerated primary school program near the top of her class. Her neighbours, relataives and friends’ parents relate stories of how they would motivate their children to follow Arooj’s example and study hard. Buoyed by her performance and specially the praise from her teachers, Arooj’s parents were excited to see their daughter continue to shine in school so they could see her realise her dream of becoming a doctor.
Unfortunately, progressing to secondary school was not that straightforward. Arooj’s father was a daily laborer and did not have a stable income. On a good month, where he was lucky to find enough work, he would earn up to PKR 11,000, which was hardly enough to feed his family of six. Sending Arooj to secondary school would impose a very heavy burden on the family’s finances.
Arooj got selected for our Secondary Students Scholarship program, which covers the cost of education up to matriculation for the most promising students. Arooj’s parents were elated. She is now a 9th Grade student at the Allama Iqbal Public High School in Lahore where she continues to be a high performing student.
In addition, she has proven to be an incredible support to her family – she contributes to the household income by making artificial jewelry for sale. We were stunned to see the beautiful masterpieces she was creating at home. Arooj told our team that jewelry making doesn’t seem like work to her at all. In fact she finds it a good stress reliever when she gets tired from doing her homework.
The budding artist is already supporting her family financially at the age of seventeen but she has big plans for her future. She aspires to become a doctor and Zindagi Trust’s Secondary School Scholarship for Top Graduates is helping her achieve her dream. In an interview with our team, Arooj told us that the plight of the people around her who cannot afford healthcare motivates her to take action to bring betterment to her community.
“I want to become a doctor when I grow up because I want to help poor families like ours who suffer because they can’t afford good treatment. I will not charge them a penny because access to healthcare is everyone’s right”.
Donate today to support superheroes like Arooj who are passionate to acquire education and ready to take their community’s future in their own hands.
We have expanded our Breakfast Program to 200 more children at Khatoon-e-Pakistan Government Girls School (KPS), the second school we adopted under our School Reform project. In addition to the 250+ students of Kindergarten at SMB Fatima Jinnah Government School (SMB), we are now providing a daily breakfast to more than 200 students of Kindergarten, First and Second Grade at KPS.
From our experience at our first adopted school as well as from established practice around the world, we know that children who eat a nutritious breakfast have more energy, do better in school, and make healthier choices throughout the day. We are already reaping the benefits of breakfast at KPS - with both teachers and parents reporting a change in the students. The youngest students at school who used to be specially irritable, restless, tired and unable to focus on their lesson are now perceived to be taking keen interest in classroom activities.
“I find my students more active than before as a result of which they are able to give excellent class performance. The breakfast has really boosted their energy levels in a positive way,” remarked a Kindergarten teacher at KPS.
As with our first school SMB, the weekly breakfast menu at KPS has also been carefully developed with consideration given to nutritional value, availability of quality ingredients and an aim to develop a taste for a wide variety of foods in our students. Special attention is paid to the maintenance of hygiene standards in the kitchen. Some of the items featured on the KPS menu include different varieties of eggs (scrambled, boiled, half boiled egg), fruit and bean salad, oats, porridge, milkshakes, dates, chickpea salad and homemade chapati along with different vegetables.We are also happy to report that the student have now started to love sago in milk or milkshakes.
At SMB, the previous quarter's additions to the menu such as whole wheat chapatis and porridge are going strong. A new addition this month has been an elaborate fruit chaat or salad featuring cucumber, carrot, red beans, chickpeas, along with seasonal fruits and dates. Vegetables with chapati, yogurt and sago pudding or kheer was also introduced. Children are given information about every new item added to the menu so that they learn to recognize and appreciate it for the nutritional value, taste, origin, as well as the benefits of eating it.
Milk is served daily as usual at both the schools.
Please consider making a donation to this program to continue supporting breakfast to fuel the brains of tomorrow's world!
Shalook is a 13-year-old boy who lives with his parents and three younger siblings in a low-income community near Walton Road, Lahore. He has enjoyed playing cricket with his best friends on the streets of Lahore since he was only seven and is passionate about the game. When you ask him who is role model is, he would look up at you with a glimmer in his eyes and exclaim “Shahid Afridi!” - his voice full of joy.
Shalook is always surrounded by plastic bats and balls. You would think life couldn’t be more perfect for a young cricket fan, but the truth is he is a child worker in the packaging department of a sports good factory. With tiny hands, and big dreams in his eyes, he spends a major part of every day preparing plastic bats and balls for sale in toy shops.
Shalook’s father is a labourer and struggles to make ends meet for their family. He is a very hardworking man but has lost a lot of physical strength after a life of hard physical labour. In the months the family gets lucky, he is able to earn PKR 10,000 (about $100) which is barely enough to feed his family of five. He wanted Shalook, his eldest son, to become an engineer but his circumstances left him helpless and he was forced to put him to work. Shalook earns PKR 2000 (about $20) every month, which is a very big support for his family.
When our Zindagi Trust team learned about Shalook we approached his family and told his father about our Paid to Learn program, where working children get a free education as well as a scholarship stipend if they finish. His father did not need much convincing and was thrilled to learn that his son would be paid to learn! He told our team that he could now dream again.
“My son will be an engineer and will earn so much that we will never have to sleep hungry again!”
His son had a different dream. Jumping with excitement, he told our team he wanted to learn so much at school that when he won his first big match he could give his interview in English.
Shalook is now in the 5th grade and has his parents’ full support for his education. He is a quick learner and enjoys his homework. In the evening he still goes and plays cricket with his friends. He has adopted his parents’ dream for him to become an engineer but also aspires to play cricket in the local leagues.
We at Zindagi Trust want to thank you in making dreams come true with your generous donations. We hope that you will continue supporting us in our mission to educate young children like Shalook.