Zohra Shah, a young girl who was just eight years old, should have been playing in her garden, having a tea party for her dolls and running around with her friends and family. Unfortunately, however, she was employed as a slave-like domestic worker. Instead of having access to education, she was kept indoors, burdened with household chores, too heavy for her frail shoulders. She was brutally tortured - and killed - by her employers after she accidentally opened a birdcage, freeing the birds. Zohra was brought to the hospital after being beaten to an inch of her life, but succumbed to her injuries.
Her employers later admitted to hitting Zohra for releasing their parrots. To these cruel people, their parrots were more valuable than a human life. Zohra had no intention of harming anyone and causing an issue; yet, her life, education and childhood were ruthlessly snatched from her.
Instead of working, she should have been in school, getting an education and building a future for herself, but that was not to be: she is now gone and can never come back. This couple misused their power by abusing Zohra in a way which shocked our nation to its core. No one deserves to die in such a horrible way, especially a child who made an honest mistake! The people who work for you are there to make your life easier and to help you out. They are human beings and have rights. They deserve to be treated with kindness, consideration and respect!
A huge number of children is employed as domestic workers. Children of all ages, from as young as six to seven years of age to older teens, are hired as domestic servants. They are deprived of their right to education, and exposed to horrors like physical and mental abuse. The state has failed in its duty to protect them.
Child labour deprives children of their childhood, their future potential and dignity! Statistics show that in Pakistan, children between the age of ten to 14 are forced to work; of these, 61 percent are boys and 88 percent come from rural areas. Child labour is not acceptable under any circumstances. Child abuse is even worse, and killing an innocent human is completely and utterly unacceptable. This is not how we want our country to be perceived. We need change; we need justice and, most importantly, we need to stand together as a nation and educate ourselves in order to take action. As humans who care about our future, we should not remain silent and this cruelty should not be ignored.
It is sad that people feel like they are superior to others based on economic status, and that is completely immoral. The small population of Pakistani citizens with power, money and influence should be educating other children, feeding the homeless and donating to a good cause instead of murdering, torturing and performing other horrific acts upon those under their power. We all are human beings and economic status doesn’t define us. Our society is becoming so egotistical that people feel like the only way to take action is with violence.
If you want to help us bring a change, this is the time to start now. Donating a small amount of money, community service and volunteering can really help. Our NGO, Educating our Future, works to bring awareness about the importance of education, because we believe that change can only be brought through education. Education alone can empower our citizens, and bring about the change we all want to see.
Us talked to Alesha Faraz to learn more about the NGO, Educating our Future …
Tell us about yourself and your organisation. What are your key achievements? How do you manage it, especially during this pandemic?
We started this organisation with the hope to educate underprivileged children all over Karachi. We are passionate about education, and feel it is a great privilege to be able to get a good education. So, we decided that every child deserves to be educated. Since starting this organisation in February, we have come quite a long way. Together we planned a fundraiser on the 16th of February. Many people showed up to support us and all in all it was a very successful event. Through this fundraiser, we managed to raise eight lakh rupees.
This money was used to buy necessities and school supplies for a conjoining orphanage and school. We supplied the orphanage with basic furniture, books, prayer mats, copies of Quran, cleaning supplies, mattresses, blankets and hygiene supplies.
For the school, we bought all the tools they needed to teach their children with ease such as notebooks, pencils, paper, books, etc. We also went to the school and gave a talk on the importance of hygiene. As we can’t go to school, we have started doing a lot more online. We are in touch with the lady who is in charge there and we have made more goals for ourselves to raise money and awareness for them. We have submitted articles to many different places and have come up with different posts for our Instagram account about ongoing issues, so we can educate our audience. Using this quarantine time wisely, we have decided to write a book on education and its importance. These are our key accomplishments and we have planned to do a lot more in the upcoming future.
How do you people plan to support children? Tell us about your action plan.
Supporting a large number of children is not an easy task, but it is our goal to do so. We want to make education fun for the kids. We plan on hosting a lot more events in the future and use that money to improve the quality of education and supply the school with whatever they need to do that. Before the pandemic, we went to the school every weekend. We taught the children and played with them. We can organise activities for them and educate them on the real issues in the world. Along with that we will also help the teachers out with work. We are also planning to have more drives for collecting books, clothes and other necessities for the children. If the children ever need to talk or need advice with anything, we are always there for them to help out. As we want to Educate Our Future we will do anything and everything in our power to help these kids and make their lives easier along with providing them with education.
People usually think teenagers are carefree and apathetic when it comes to bad things happening in society! But, of course, this is not true! They also get affected. How do you guys feel? What encouraged you to step forward and start an NGO to serve this great cause?
We feel privileged because we study in one of the best schools in the country, and we want to give back. Just the thought of the kids on the streets being deprived of basic schooling makes us feel bad. This motivates us to work and help them get an education. Rich or poor, everyone should be given the opportunity to make something of themselves. We want to see a change in our country, and we want to help bring it. We want to see children becoming successful! In short, we want to make the world a better place. Together we can accomplish goals, but it won’t happen without education.
Spreading awareness is a very important thing to do, so what are you doing about this issue?
We have done different things to spread awareness. For example, we have made an Instagram account where we post and update our followers about our NGO and issues related to children, like the tragic death of Zohra Shah. We also submit our articles to magazines and newspapers. We’ve also been interviewed by Geo News about our fundraiser and about our NGO which encouraged more people to donate after it got published. We are trying our best to spread awareness in different ways so that we can reach out to people all over our country and everyone can see how the need to rise up and support others.
Who supports the NGO?
We are students of Karachi American School. We started our NGO because we believe education can greatly impact Pakistan’s progress, and we really want to try to improve the system. We are the future of Pakistan and we are very proud to call ourselves Pakistanis! We will fight to bring a change in our country. We hold fundraisers and events to support our NGO.
A word about your parents’ role?
Our parents have helped us through out, and without them it would have been very hard to manage everything. If we don’t understand something, they guide us. We couldn’t have renovated the orphanage without them. They played a major role in our NGO and we are extremely lucky to have parents like ours who encourage us to be better and stronger people. They are involved with other charities and orphanages and so they are in a better position to guide us. We appreciate them, and their help enormously.
Right now, social media is one of the biggest platforms where NGOs’ work gets recognition and we have seen that people do support good causes! In your case, how is the response? And tell us about the activities (donation drives, live interviews, etc.) you do on your social media to engage people. And what challenges do you face?
Some activities we have organised are book and clothes drives, an interview, etc. For our book and clothes drives, we put up posts on our Instagram, placed collection boxes in school and at our fundraiser. People sent books and clothes to our houses. We had shirts made which had “Educate” printed on them, and we sold over fifty shirts. All the money went to the orphanage and school that our NGO supports. On our social media, we started posting pictures of the orphanage and school. We can’t go to the school anymore due to Covid 19, so that is a challenge.
Then, we started researching more about the lack of education and other issues being faced by our nation. We were shocked to learn that about 55 million children in Pakistan are unable to read or write. After researching, we started posting facts, so people could read them and realise what’s going on. Another big challenge we really faced was we didn’t have a big following, so our posts were not getting shared. We have started small, but we are determined to grow.
You can contact
[email protected] or go to their Instagram page @Educatingourfuture_ to donate and ask questions.