As summer hits full force in Pakistan, I want to let you know what transpired during the glorious but all-too fleeting spring when I made my last visit. Each time I travel to Pakistan my sense of good fortune to be doing this work only increases. And none of it could have happened without you. Here are some highlights.
Construction is now complete on a new floor, with science lab, library, and classroom for college prep courses at the Al-Hamd Educational Girls’ High School. This is a free school in a now-suburban village of Lahore (the city has expanded outward dramatically since we first began our work in Baagrian). The reputation of this school has created a long waiting list for entry, but since we are firm in holding the number of students down to 25 per classroom, we have to limit the number of new students we admit every term. Student enrollment thus remains steady at 225 with 11 faculty members.
We continue to support enrichment programs and have added new ones:
- We pay all fees for the seven faculty members who attend evening classes.
- F.A. or university prep classes begin in August 2013, in addition to regular instruction.
- A new Science Lab, Library, F.A. classroom and sanitary facilities have been built.
- Evening classes for the benefit of working girls and women will resume in August.
- A bookmobile named Dastango (Storyteller) visits the school every month.
- The Medical Vouchers Program enables free medical treatment to students and their families at local clinics. More than 200 visits are made every month.
Our other major partner is the Friends Welfare Association in Mansehra District, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK). It remains a privilege to collaborate with them, and three particularly wonderful things have happened since Fall 2011.
The Government Girls’ Middle School, Paras, was expanded into a high school in September 2011. Every student who entered completed her course with only half a year’s instruction, due to the dedicated efforts of faculty, students and the community committee that supports the school. Furthermore, enrollments have doubled this year to 30 students. This achievement is remarkable, given that the students were out of school for over a year, yet they were able to resume their studies with few transition difficulties. What better illustration could there be of these children’s desire to study?
The Government Girls’ Middle School, Sathangali, was not only upgraded to a High School by the Education Office, but government authorities resumed responsibility for running it, after a four-year interim during which Friends and Hoshyar got the school back on its feet. We are now able to sponsor another school in a new village, Bararkot, which opened its high school classes in April.
The Community Managed Girls’ Middle School, Jabbar Gali, was also upgraded to a Government-accredited High School this year, a huge accomplishment for the village. About 10 students complete high school every year, and 12 have signed up for college prep classes at the magnet school to be opened in Manda Gucha. Jabbar Gali will send young women for teacher training and midwifery courses to serve the female population after they obtain F.A. and F.Sc. credentials in 2015.
In 2012 Hoshyar also established two new funds:
The Zaida Carlson Petievich Memorial Fund for Future Teachers, which will be used for college scholarships for top students who wish to become teachers or medical professionals. We also plan to award a cash prize to the student who achieves the highest marks in the 8th grade Board Exams in each of our sponsored schools. Our initial goal of $10,000 was reached in February, and the fund drive ongoing. Through this special fund, we can encourage more girls to pursue studies in science and technical areas.
The Malala Yousafzai School Fund. Following the horrific attempt to assassinate Malala in October 2012, Hoshyar began a collection with the goal of raising $30,000 to build a girls’ high school in her name in her home province. Happily, we met our goal in just three months, thanks to donors from all over the world. Every time thugs attempt to terrorize girls into staying out of school, we will quietly but firmly open another opportunity for them. This is the best way to show our commitment to making school available to every girl. Education is a human right.
All of this has been made possible through your generous donations and moral support. Please keep them both coming! We could not do it without you, and we thank you so much.