Educating The Marginalized in Pakistan

Ananke's Nida Mariyam speaks to Zargham Haider Kazmi and Iram Jehan of Umeed-E-Subh, a social welfare organization launched by students of University of Engineering and Technology (UET - in the city of Taxila), about their initiative that supports needy students in Pakistan.

Tell us about Umeed-E-Subh?

Umeed-E-Subh (in hope of morning) is a social welfare entity striving to improve community literacy by offering financial and motivational support to orphans, poor and needy students in Pakistan. Our aim is to increase the country’s literacy rate and we strive to create opportunities for students in public schools.

Our work consists of helping children from the under privileged sections of society by providing them with uniforms, shoes, stationary etc.

What was the inspiration behind the launch of this initiative?

Many students drop out from academic institutions mainly because of financial obstacles, irrespective of how talented they are. It was due to this very reason that we came up with the idea and launched the Umeed-e-Subh Initiative in 2014. At the moment, we are supporting more than 100 students.

In our daily lives, we often see children either begging, working as waiters in hotels, maids at homes or mechanics at car workshops, or are simply out in the streets etc. These kids need to be at school but they are victims of child labour. This crisis in our society inspired us to work together and do something meaningful for the community.

Education is a must for every child, boys and especially girls, why is it so important particularly in our society to educate women?

We staunchly believe it is mandatory to educate women in order to build a better nation because they form half of the population and real development is impossible without enabling them. Most importantly, education is the right of every man and women, without any discrimination. It is pivotal to educate women so that they can also positively and productively serve society.

FotorCreatedWhat kind of steps have you taken for girls who cannot afford education?

In May 2016, we launched two campaigns and one of them was purely for girls who were unable to afford education. The name of the campaign was “Door to Door”. The other was “Shop to Shop”. The main purpose was to help children who worked at different shops and homes; encouraging them to go to school. We found 141 children out of school, including girls and got them enrolled in different schools by providing them full financial support.

Another aspect of our initiative is working towards the eradication of gender discrimination, based on our solid belief in equality and justice for all irespective of their gender.

Do you have any financial supporters?

While most organizations receive funding from the government or other institutional sources, being a student-based organization, our main sources of funding are students like ourselves.  In addition to this, our families and other people help us in collecting donations. But we are always trying to expand our circle.

How do you envision Umeed-E-Subh’s future?

Our future goal is to establish a school for needy and poor students, imparting quality education free of cost.

Umeed-E-Subh is soon launching its “Education Is their Right” Program by establishing free schools for poor and needy children. The school will offer quality education free of cost to students who are unable to afford it. We have plans to construct two schools. One at the outskirts of the University of Engineering and Technoloy Taxila and second in Rawalpindi (both in the province of Punjab). A campaign for funds collecting will commence soon.

What are the major challenges faced by the organization?

Facing challenges is a part of life and one learns a lot from them. In the beginning, we encountered many obstacles; one of them was gaining the trust of other students as well as the public. With time and hard work, we gained that trust. The other challenge was to convince the parents of children to get them enrolled in schools.

What steps have you taken to raise awareness about education when it comes to marginalized sections of society?

We don’t believe in discrimination which is why we are working hard to raise awareness about the importance of educating both boys and girls. We deliver lectures and arrange counseling sessions monthly to motivate students.

Anything you wish to add?

Drops of water gather to make a river and then rivers transform into oceans and sea. The journey started with only three UET students and have now gotten bigger with many like-minded individuals joining us. The road is long and we warmly welcome anyone who is willing to be a part of Umeed-E-Subh. We are striving to establish our chapters in other universities as well.

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