Dear HOPE Friends,
We HOPE you had a wonderful time over the holidays and 2019 is off to a terrific start! We at HOPE USA wanted to thank you sincerely for your support in launching our Global Giving campaign and helping us to earn a permanent spot on the Global Giving website. Several of you have become recurring donors and for that we are extremely grateful. Our Help Educate a Girl in Kashmir campaign is flourishing due to your support and dedication. We are about 1/3 of the way towards our $20,000 goal!
As you may know, HOPE USA is a multifaceted charity which supports health and education efforts in the third-world South Asian country of Pakistan. Currently, we are humbled to say that we support a network of hospitals and schools which provides healthcare to over 500,000 patients annually and education to almost 10,000 students per year, all for minimal cost or for free. Most of HOPE's patients and students are impoverished women and children.
For this campaign specifically, you supported the efforts of our 35 home schools which are scattered in the Northern Areas of Pakistan, also known as Kashmir. Home schooling is an innovative concept that was scooped up and highlighted by HOPE. Essentially, home schooling is a practical and affordable means of educating children in remote and rural areas (such as the mountainous regions of Pakistan). It addresses several barriers that these children face in their quest to achieve an education: the feasibility of constructing schools in mountainous areas, the dangers of traveling long distances across rough terrain, the poor quality and lack of availability of government schools, and pervasive cultural barriers that prevent girls from achieving an education. HOPE promotes home schools by encouraging trusted and educated community women to set up a learning environment for eager students in their own homes or a common area. The teachers use materials and curriculum provided by HOPE. They are paid a stipend through HOPE and are provided the necessary materials to teach in a conducive learning environment. Parents are familiar with the teachers and are comfortable because schools are accessible within their villages and students are able to travel to them safely. The home school concept has opened the door of education to many children, especially girls.
Below, please find a summary of accomplishments and activities of HOPE's Kashmir home schools. These accomplishments were supported through our initial campaign collection of approximately $5,500. Specifically, these activities were made possible by your donations!
- HOPE is proud to say that its home schools are the only functioning educational options within Azad Jammu and Kashmir. Currently our home schools provide education from grade 1 until grade 8 and in some cases until Matriculation (high school). We are pleased to say that out of 1,810 students, 75 percent are girls and 99 percent of them complete their education until grade 8. Furthermore, 60 percent of students go on to complete their Matriculation levels.
- Accessibility in these mountainous areas is a challenge and many areas remain isolated in winter due to snow. HOPE has set up 35 informal registered schools in Azad Jammu Kashmir area located on various mountain tops. Children travel through the rough terrain of mountains on foot carrying their backpacks and endure harsh weather conditions to reach HOPE home schools. It is the passion and enthusiasm of these students which allows them to overcome hurdles and take advantage of the opportunities presented in HOPE home schools.
- Recently, a debate competition was held amongst HOPE home schools in which students displayed their elocution skills. The debate competition held in order to commemorate Iqbal Day, a Pakistani holiday celebrating the life and services of Allama Iqbal, a well-acclaimed Urdu poet, philosopher, and politician. The purpose of the competition was to promote public speaking skills and teach students to be articulate while expressing their thoughts and opinions. The speakers of grade I through grade VIII spoke eloquently on different topics relating to Allama Iqbal.
- HOPE home schools are subject to the same standards as all schools in Pakistan. Students from HOPE home schools participate in in Board Exams and pass with flying colors. Preliminary examinations were held in the last week of November 2018 and overall HOPE students performed very highly. These exams given to prepare students for the Annual Board Exams to be held in March 2019.
- New furniture for the students of HOPE School Garhidupatta has been successfully provided with our campaign funds. This includes new wooden desks and benches as per the needs of students. Initially students used to sit on plastic chairs and used plastic desks. As students grew and plastic wore out, old furniture was unable to cater to their needs and became a source of discomfort and distraction. An investment was made in better quality furniture in order to bring about a positive change in performance. Since the acquisition of wooden desks and chairs, students are able to sit comfortably and focus on classroom activities.
- Education has brought about a profound change in the culture amongst the traditional people living in the Northern Areas. Many girls are being given the opportunity to become educated (as opposed to ten years ago) and many go further go on to make a difference in their communities. An example is Kiran Nazir; she was born into an extremely poor family and studied at HOPE home schools. She and her siblings traveled long distances everyday to reach the HOPE home school. With support and guidance from HOPE, Kiran was able to ace her Matriculation exams. The HOPE home school team in Kashmir recognized Kiran's potential and gave her moral and financial support so that she was able to study beyond high school levels as well. Once Kiran finished her education, she married a man in a village four hours away from her home. There were no opportunities for women and children in her new village. Realizing the importance of education, Kiran wanted to to improve the lives of other underprivileged children. With her HOPE foundation under her belt, Kiran took the initiative to open her own home school in her new village. She credits HOPE for the inspiration of her philanthropic endeavors and said if it were not for her HOPE home schooling in Kashmir, she would not have been able to get an education or achieve so much in her life.
Thank you for taking the time to read about how your support has made a difference in the lives of 1,810 children in the mountains of Kashmir! We HOPE that you realize what an impact you are making everyday. In the next progress report, we will be able to share with you pictures of Dr. Mubina Agboatwalla's (founder of HOPE) upcoming trip to the Northern Areas. Meanwhile, please enjoy these recent pictures of children you are helping. Until next time, take care!