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March 21, 2016

Stepping in where the state fails!


March 21, 2016

Siblings share their experience of setting up a school that
is at present providing education to 50 street children


“My father does not allow me to study, and beats me up every time I speak of getting an education. My mother, however, encourages me and I will prove myself by becoming an engineer or a doctor,” said a dejected yet hopeful 14-year-old Shahzeb, forced by his low-income economic background to sell flowers at traffic signals.

However, Shahzeb and many others like him would have been unable to pursue their dreams had it not been for Hasan Zafar and Shireen Zafar’s benevolence and an empty plot in DHA.

Students of grades 9 and 7 respectively, Hasan and Shireen, the brother sister duo, offer their teaching services to over 50 street
children after they are
done earning their day’s livelihood.

“The realisation struck when one day my car stopped at a signal and a beggar came and asked me ‘How are you’. These three words spoken in English compelled me to think about teaching street children,” Shireen shared.

The idea, however, got a boost when Syeda Anfas Ali Shah Zaidi, an entrepreneur and Ocean Welfare Organization’s (OWO), an NGO, President joined in.

“There are 50 students enrolled in this street school and 45 of them come regularly to attend class,” Anfas told The News, adding, that the NGO had been trying to reach out to more children
in other parts of the city as well.

“Families of most of the children are not interested in getting them educated but want them to earn money, which is why we give these children Rs50 daily,” she added.

Further sharing some of the problems the trio have had to face, Anfas said that they had been threatened by drug mafias who use the children for their nefarious business.

Exposed to substance use at an early age, most of the children they came across had become addicted to drugs, Anfas said, adding, that they had to maintain a close watch over them in order to keep them from returning to the habit.

Hasan while sharing his experience of teaching the children said he did not face any difficulty in teaching them because he believed they were just like them, but only needed to be given more attention.

Speaking of whether the school had been able to garner the concerned authorities’ attention, Anfas said she was interviewed day in and day out by media personnel but nobody from the government had so far contacted her.

The school starts at 4:00 pm daily and ends with the national anthem at 6:00 pm.

As the founders figure out a way to expand the school, 13-year-old Zubeida despite all her hardships continues to show up to class with a dream to become a government officer so she could live in a respectable house and drive a car, just like the others.

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