Apr 24, 2019

Meet Zareen: A Young Creator

13-year old Zareen’s fingers move slowly with calculated precision as she puts the finishing touches on a wooden doll she has carved herself. The cold steel blade of the scissor glints in the warm morning sunlight as she trims the doll’s hair, which she has glued on moments before. However, these moments, where she has time to indulge in her love of creating, are few and far in between. 5 minutes later, she puts down the scissors and leaves her home for a nearby warehouse where she spends her mornings packaging sports equipment, her fingers now moving mechanically at laser speed to put cricket balls in their nets. Through this job, she earns 20 USD a month, which she contributes towards her household income.

Zareen and her siblings started working 6 years ago in their home city of Lahore when their father suffered a terrible car accident and lost the use of his legs. Their mother, who works as a house help in nearby homes, could not manage alone. Now, her father has re-joined his work as a carpenter in a furniture shop, but funds are low, and Zareen’s small income is a helpful addition to the family’s total monthly income of 105 USD. Sundays are a happy time though, right now her father is helping her carve miniature furniture pieces for a doll house.

Zareen is a student at a Zindagi Trust school in Lahore, Pakistan, This school specializes in non-formal education for working children, covering basic primary education in an accelerated two-year course. Alina had stopped attending school once she started working in the warehouse. However, the Zindagi Trust team reached out to her parents who then enrolled Zareen and her siblings in the program. Now, in the equivalent of fifth grade, she spends three hours at school between her time working at the warehouse.

While she is a consistent top achiever in the subjects of Urdu Language and Mathematics, Zareen enjoys her art classes the most. ‘Playing with colours is what fascinates me the most. Painting is almost like a sport of colours to me’ says the young creator.

Your regular donations aid Zareen and students like her acquire education to fulfil their creative ambitions and passions. We hope you will continue to support young students like Zareen!

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Apr 1, 2019

Star Student Simran

Reading about the spinal cord
Reading about the spinal cord

Simran appears enrapt as she curiously stares into her grade 8 science book. The page visible shows an illustration of a small spark of light travelling from the human brain to the spinal cord and finally to a human arm. Today, her class is learning about the nervous system and the wondrous manner in which messages are relayed to and from our brain.

As she reads the Urdu passages that accompany the diagram with contemplation, one can tell Simran is in a mental and physical space that she enjoys. And why wouldn’t she be— science is what will enable her to one day become a doctor, a desire she holds close to her heart: it was her late father’s wish for her.

Fourteen year old Simran is studious and hardworking. Although losing her father was the most difficult thing she and her family had to deal with, Simran is focused in life and determined to succeed. Her mother, a single parent, earns USD 85 a month working as a housekeeper while Simran works at a beauty salon and is able to contribute about USD 7 to the family income. Their total income is just sufficient to provide them the basic necessities in life including an education for Simran’s three younger siblings. Simran counts the advantages of pursuing an education including how it has allowed her to be better at her job, “I can read the English written on products we use at the Salon now and I have become better at handling and talking to customers.”

She graduated from Zindagi Trust’s Paid to Learn Program, a three year non-formal accelerated primary school program. Upon the completion of this program Simran gained admission into Allama Iqbal Public High School through Zindagi Trust’s Secondary Sponsorship Program where students are not only given support for admission into grade 6 at a formal school but also given a full scholarship till Grade 10. Simran is a star student, ranking third in her class last year, and her ambition will settle for nothing less this year too!

With your donations Zindagi Trust can continue to support more students like Simran.  Please consider donating!

Taking notes
Taking notes
With some classmates
With some classmates
Star Student Simran
Star Student Simran

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Mar 4, 2019

End of School Year Breakfast Report

Socializing while enjoying porridge
Socializing while enjoying porridge

Brrrrring! The morning school bell rings and with the usual chatter, fidgets, and giggles, primary and pre-primarily students take their seats around a breakfast table. The school chef brings around a tray and uncovers it with a flourish.

And just like that, an ordinary school Monday morning is transformed into Paratha Day-everyone’s favourite day.

However, these are no ordinary parathas. Parathas are flatbreads which traditionally contain layers of cooked white dough and copious amounts of oil. The ones polished off instantly by these 3 to 7-year-olds are a healthy, nutritionally-dense version, which also includes spinach. Fun fact, the spinach is grown in the school’s vegetable garden by student-led Environment Club where students learn how to grow certain, vegetables, protect them from pests, understand and appreciate food production and also compost kitchen waste.

What’s for breakfast?

During the last quarter of this academic year, Khatoon e Pakistan Government Girls School (KPS) served spinach parathas, boiled eggs, khichri (rice pilaf), banana and date shakes, fresh fruits and porridge.  The school staff has really striven to serve a different item every day to pique students’ interest and to cater to every palate. As Maa Bibi, the KPS chef, says “Yeh bhi humarey bachey hai” (these too are our children), and this is what motivates the breakfast staff to innovate new recipes.

In serving breakfast, it’s easy to forget how much sugar and processed ingredients are lurking in every bite, undermining the nutrition in the breakfast. KPS is working on eliminating sugar and processed ingredients, using ingredients such as dates to naturally sweeten foods. Flatbreads are kneaded and cooked in school rather than store-bought options.

SMB Fatima Jinnah Government Girls School (SMB) in this last quarter also focused on keeping up the healthy eating habits developed throughout the year in close partnership with the parents. Students have started enjoying milk, fruits, and porridge; items which were usually rejected by the students at the beginning of the year. “I like to eat fruits, especially oranges and bananas” saysAreeba (KG-I) with a sparkle in her eye. Also, Huriya’s (KG-I) grandmother reports My granddaughter was not fond of drinking milk before but after having it here every day, she has developed a likeness to it”.

“My daughter asked me to make the same porridge as she gets in school and after tasting it she told me it wasn’t as good as the one she has at school” Hafsa’s (KG II) mother exclaims as she expresses her desire to get the magical porridge recipe from KG chef to satisfy her daughter developed taste.

Yasira’s (KG-II) father revealed that his daughter loved the school breakfast menu especially the noodles, kabab, and spinach with yoghurt. She expects the same from her mother who has now learnt the recipes. In this way, the parent community has also been groomed hand-in-hand to initiate healthy menu at home.

Fan favourites at SMB include porridge, cutlets with mint chatni and omelette which students regularly ask to repeat.

About the Program

Zindagi Trust’s Breakfast Program aims to provide students with a nutritious locally sourced meal to start the day. The program seeks to integrate and build awareness of health, nutrition and environment among our young students.

At KPS, breakfast was served this year to students of Kindergarten, first grade and second grade totaling 217 students. However, due to its larger student body, SMB was only able to serve breakfast to their 280 kindergarten students.

Our vision for the breakfast program is about inculcating healthy living habits in our students and we like to take this value beyond the breakfast room. We do not see the breakfast program in isolation from the rest of a students' intellectual development. As such, for long term impact, we have involved the school nurse, the gardeners, science teachers, canteen management and parents in the process of implementing the breakfast program.

The Breakfast program is has been tremendously successful. It has brought about a heartening improvement in the development and health of our young students. Teachers and staff report a decrease in absenteeism, fainting due to malnutrition, yawning during the class, and diminished concentration in studies and sports. Moreover, it has significantly boosted student admissions in the Early Childhood Development grades (ECD) at SMB.

What’s next?

We plan to involve a nutritionist to understand the science behind nutrition better. What ratio of proteins-carbs-fibres should an ideal breakfast contain?  The menu is in constant flux as we continue to innovate and experiment and work for serving breakfast to SMB students beyond Kindergarten grades.

 

 

Grade 1 queuing up for their daily nutritious dose
Grade 1 queuing up for their daily nutritious dose
Serving meals in steel dishes to replace plastic
Serving meals in steel dishes to replace plastic
Enjoying her porridge with bananas and dates
Enjoying her porridge with bananas and dates

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