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.
Asad is a 14-year-old boy who lives with his parents and four siblings in Lahore. His father is a labourer and finds it difficult to support the family of his seven on his salary. From an early age, Asad has been helping his family by working in a small auto-parts factory near where he makes wires for motor-bikes. He makes 2000 rupees a month, which is a decent contribution to their household income on top of his father's average labour earnings of 14000 rupees a month.
Four years ago, Asad enrolled in our Paid to Learn school for working children where he finished primary school in two years. Having graduated near the top of his primary education class, he qualified for our continuing education scholarship, through which he was placed in the 6th grade of a private school near his home in Peco Road, Lahore. Committed to his studies as the path towards changing his and his family's lives, Asad is a punctual, regular and hard-working student. He has adjusted well to the challenges of life in a private school after completing an accelerated primary course with us in a non-formal classroom setting. He is currently a student of the 8th grade and wants to become a doctor when he grows up.
"I want to take full advantage of this life and serve humanity," said Asad when asked why he wants to become a doctor. "I want to inspire those who want to change themselves as well as the people and the world around them by spreading love."
In his free time, Asad loves to play cricket with his friends and has been selected in a team of the neighbourhood's better cricketers.
He thanks you for supporting him and other Zindagi Trust students like him and promises that he will pay back this goodwill by devoting his work and time to those in need in the future. Please consider making a donation or sharing the word about the Paid to Learn project and help our most promising young students continue their education!
Three months ago, our team sat down to re-assess the menu for the breakfast we serve to our Kindergarten students at SMB Fatima Jinnah Government Girls School. Our goal was to ensure that every breakfast our students eat is nutritious, delicious and efficient to prepare and serve.
We got rid of things like French fries and muffins from the regular menu and decided to avoid foods high in sugar and refined flour in the future. We also replaced bakery bread with home-made whole-wheat chapati (flatbread) where possible, to ensure students get adequate fibre in their diet and avoid the inevitable mid-day sugar crash. To keep a balance between savoury and sweet breakfasts, we drafted various preparations of chickpeas and other beans such as curries or salads with seeds, grilled vegetables and vegetable sandwiches. It was also decided that we would try homemade jams and sweeten porridge with fruits instead of with sugar.
In the months of April and May, our tiny tots in the KG section enjoyed chapati, sweet porridge, spicy porridge, boiled chickpeas and vegetable sandwiches from the new menu. They also had milk every day, as usual. They enjoyed all the new additions, though it took them a while to get used to vegetables or jam rolled up in chapatis instead of in sandwiches. Their parents also appreciated the changes.
April was the beginning of our new term, which meant a brand new class of Kindergarten 1 got introduced to school breakfast (not common in Pakistani schools) for the very first time.The parents of these new students were blown away by the breakfast program and were all praises for it.
Overall, a total 263 students were served a daily breakfast in the last three months. We at Zindagi Trust are fully committed to serving students a healthy and nutritious menu and are constantly trying to improve it. Please share any suggestions you may have for nutritious breakfast ideas and keep supporting our program.