Dubai Born in a slum area in Karachi, Sidra Saleem would, perhaps, have lived the same life of anonymity that most of the other children around her did. Some of them got food and many did not. Shelter or clothing had nothing to do with comfort, the lucky ones managed to survive somehow. Education, it is not hard to imagine, was certainly not anywhere close to life’s priorities.
But, today, Sidra is the envy of many for she not only completed her schooling scoring 87 per cent, she is studying to become a doctor in Dow Medical College, one of the most sought after in Pakistan.
Her success is not an effort in isolation. It is the fruit of efforts from various corners — philanthropist Pakistanis, many of them living outside their homeland including the UAE, volunteers who mentored her and The Citizens Foundation, a non-profit organisation committed to the cause of providing quality education in some of the most impoverished and deprived rural and urban areas of Pakistan.
Sidra is one of the over 100,000 underprivileged children who got access to education through TCF and among those 440 who, after completing their schooling, are studying in specialised colleges.
âPriority to girls’
“Apart from coming from an economically weaker strata, her chances of getting education were further lowered as many people do not give priority to girls’ education. Today, we have 730 schools and have a high girl enrolment ratio; 50 per cent of the pupils are girls,” Mushtaq K. Chhapra, Founder Director of TCF, told Gulf News at the supporters conference held in Dubai on Sunday.
“Education and health are the areas where people really want to see an improvement. Pakistanis residing in the UAE contribute a lot towards these causes; as a result, they have contributed to giving a meaning to many lives,” said Syed Asaad Ayoub Ahmad, President and CEO of the organisation.
Founded in 1995, The Citizens Foundation has established 730 primary and secondary school units in 83 towns and cities across Pakistan with an enrolment of more than 102,000 children.
It employs over 5,400 teachers, all of whom are women. Since its inception, TCF has rapidly gained a reputation as one of the most credible and successful NGOs in South Asia. TCF is wholly supported by individuals, corporations and endowment trusts. It receives no financial support from the Government of Pakistan.