Karachi (Muhammad Yasir) Karachi The alliance of the two leading non-profits has announced to enroll 10,000 more out-of-school children in one year in the network of jointly run charitable schools in Sindh. The non-profits Shahid Afridi Foundation (SAF) and Green Crescent Trust (GCT) made the announcement to this effect at their joint annual fundraiser held here at a hotel and attended by the leading businessmen and philanthropists of Karachi. The two charities have been working together in the education sector for the past four years having an enrolment of over 3,000 children from underprivileged families in eight jointly run schools in backward areas of Karachi.
Both the charities aim to expand their network of charitable schools to tackle the gigantic task of enrolling out-of-school children. GCT CEO, Zahid Saeed, said that over 22 million children are still out-of-school in Pakistan. He said the authentic data showed that the number of illiterate children in the country surpassed the total population of Australia. He said the latest verified data compiled by GCT showed that Pakistan’s total spending on education exceeded the defense budget of the country. He said the education budgets of provincial governments, Islamabad, Azad Kashmir, and Gilgit-Baltistan, if combined together was more than the annual defense budget of Pakistan. He said that Pakistan despite spending Rs 1,300 billion on education annually was far from tackling the issue of out-of-school children as their number kept on increasing every year.
GCT Trustee, Saad Zia, said that a group of concerned businessmen 28 years back had adopted an abandoned building of a government school and hired teachers to revive academic activities for the needy children in a backward area of Karachi. He said that the adoption of the government school building became the basis of GCT’s creation that had now 155 charitable schools all over Sindh having an enrolment of 29,000 children of the needy families. He said the footprint of the GCT’s charitable work had been present all over Sindh as its schools were situated from Sukkur to the Arabian Sea coast. He told the audience that the GCT established its schools in such backward areas where there had been no prior facility to educate the children. He said the GCT’s charitable network enrolled 1950 orphan children who were not just provided education but the pressing economic needs of their families were also regularly fulfilled.
Introducing his charity to the guests of the fundraiser, SAF Chief Operating Officer, Rizwan Ahmed, said the cricket celebrity Shahid Afridi had entered the field of charitable work in 2014 with a focus on the areas of health, education, community development, sports, and emergency relief for the deprived communities. He said that in all the SAF ran 14 charitable schools all over Pakistan having an enrolment of 4,207 children from destitute families who were being given education free of charge. He said the water supply projects built by the SAF had benefited over 25,000 families in 90 villages that had been supplied around 102,400 gallons of filtered water. He said that during the initial strict lockdown imposed in the country against the spread of Covid-19, Shahid Afridi had himself travelled 18,000 kilometres all across the country especially in Balochistan to give food rations to the needy families. He said that Afridi had to attend the fundraiser himself but couldn’t do so due to worsening of his health due to the injury as the cricketing star had personally sought an apology from the prospective donors who wanted to become a partner with him to educate children of the deprived areas. Short documentaries of both the NGOs were shown on the occasion. GCT’s documentary was about an orphan graduate of GCT’s school network, Danish Ghafoor, who later graduated from the IBA. Ghafoor after completing his education became an entrepreneur by establishing his own livestock farm that now employs the local needy population of his village in Mehrabpur.
The documentary shows that every child enrolled in the charitable schools of the GCT and SAF has the potential of following the footsteps of Ghafoor in practical life. Renowned actor, Adnan Siddiqui, conducted the show and expressed his fullest commitment to the alliance formed between the GCT and SAF for educating the children of needy families.