A Beacon Of Hope - The Citizens Foundation
The Citizens’ Foundation (TCF) is a professionally managed, non-profit organization set up in 1995 by a group of citizens who wanted to bring about positive social change in Pakistan through education.
Though it is rather unfortunate, Pakistan’s literacy rate has not always been at its best. But The Citizens Foundation (TCF) has been working since 25 years to benefit the unprivileged, and to provide them with an opportunity to see their dreams come true. It has produced so many hidden gems who have strived vigorously to become the strong personalities that they are today.
Such is the story of Samina, who sets an utmost example for the youth of Pakistan to not give up on their dreams just because the capitalist, mainstream society creates hurdles in their way.
She writes in a Facebook post:
When I was little, I lived in a small village in the Chiniot district of Punjab and I remember praying, “O Allah, please help me continue school”.
“What’s the point in educating your girls, what good will come of it"? These were some of the hurtful comments and criticisms that my father had to endure through our school life. He still made sure we continued our education.
Today, my father Dost Muhammad, a daily wage labourer, takes immense pride in the fact that me and my three sisters are the only girls in the small village who went on to complete their matriculation.
After matriculation, I did my Intermediate and became the first female police constable of my village. Punjab Police had invited applications and placed an ad in the newspaper. My elder brother encouraged me to apply. I sat the test and passed it easily.
Now, I am posted at the Chenab Nagar Rabwa Police Station, an hour and a half away from home. Women are more comfortable sharing their grievances with women. I lodge their complaints and take appropriate action after consulting with my seniors.
This field has never had too many women; but our society has slowly begun to accept the change.
Like Samina, TCF proved to be a beam of light for strong-ambitioned Uzma as well.
She describes her journey in a beautiful and heartwarming post:
“I lived in the impoverished slums of Karachi. It was my parents’ strongest wish for me to attend school. TCF opened a secondary school in the village and the principal visited everyone’s house to encourage people to send their children to school.
I learnt everything at TCF. My teachers found it rather challenging to teach me from scratch, but I salute them for persevering and continuing with the task. I secured an A grade topping my campus, and completed my matriculation, and thanks to my teachers I was the first girl in my community and family to attend college. Upon graduating from the University of Karachi with a BSc in Mathematics and Statistics, I went on to pursue an MBA.
My research paper was published in the internationally acclaimed ‘European Scientific Journal’ and I passed the tough selection process of Central Superior Services in 2014 placing 17th out of 13,000 candidates.
Now I audit the Sindh Government accounts.
Thank you TCF for turning a slum-wanderer into a policy maker!”
While we ritually praise many social media artists for the work they do, we often neglect these strong, inspirational and brave gems amongst our midst, who struggle everyday for a better tomorrow. We cannot fathom what they go through to have even half of what we have.
TCF did not stop its campaign after the COVID-19 Outbreak. It still continues to work to better the lives of children who do not have it easy.
Every morning, 13-year-old Marium collects fresh water for her family by taking a one hour trek down the steep hills of Chamankotli, a village in Azad Kashmir. Once she is back, she cuts wood for fire, prepares food, and cleans her home. While doing all this, she also attends to her mother’s needs, who is confined to a charpoy (woven bed) due to paralysis. With no access to electricity, gas or water, every chore is arduous and there’s no time to rest.
“The coronavirus crisis turned Marium’s life upside down,” shared Ms. Sania Javed, principal at the TCF school where Marium is a student. “Once the lockdown was enforced, her father lost his daily earnings as a labourer, and her mother suffered a paralysis attack. During this time, a marriage proposal came in for Marium’s elder sister, who was only 15 at the time. The family accepted it and when her sister left suddenly, all responsibilities landed onto Marium’s shoulders.”
When schools reopened in September, Marium’s father could not afford to send her back. Ms. Sania spent hours counselling the parents to let their daughter continue her education. It was only when she offered them flexibility in schools hours did they finally agree. For the first time in over 6 months, Marium returned to her classroom.
When she is in school, away from all of her worries and responsibilities, Marium sees a world full of possibilities. She dreams of becoming a teacher so she can support her family.
The coronavirus crisis has left thousands of vulnerable girls at the risk of early marriage and school dropouts. However, if everyone as brave and strong as little Marium is supported, and given hope, we can live to see a better Pakistan, where every little girl exercises her basic right of receiving education and fulfilling her hopeful and bright dreams.
We should be highly encouraged to support such organizations.
You can donate to TCF at: https://support.tcf.org.pk/fight-for-a-life
Bring change. Be the change. Be the reason to someone’s smile.
by Hiba Noor