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September 29, 2016

Hard work pays off as scavenger enrolled in top college


September 29, 2016

Abdul Museeb wants to become software engineer

PESHAWAR: Getting admission in one of the most prestigious colleges in the provincial capital must be a source of joy for a scavenger who managed to continue his studies and also supported his family by collecting scrap from garbage.

The young Abdul Museeb is now confident that his dream of becoming a software engineer would come true. He is thankful to the Child Protection Project of the Al-Khidmat Foundation, which extended him support at a time when he had decided to quit his studies due to the poor financial condition of his family.

Admitted to the Edwardes College Peshawar after clinching first position in his school - Unique Mission Public School - by obtaining 832 marks, Abdul Museeb said his elderly father Abdul Majeed was ill and therefore unable to look after his 10-member family.

“I used to pick plastics and papers from garbage dumps and earn some money to support my family. I also had great interest in education. In the morning I would attend my classes and in the evening I used to work,” he told The News.

Normally he earned Rs40-50 a day by collecting the scrap and selling it, but it wasn’t enough to make both ends meet. While he grade 7, he quit his studies as he was no more able to afford the expenses and at the same time support his family.

Several months later, he came to know about the Child Protection Project, which had a branch in his area. He met the head of the project Mushtaq Khan, who admitted him in a local school under the category of formal education of the Child Protection Project, which is an initiative of Al-Khidmat Foundation.

The project is funded by Child Protection and Rehabilitation Trust (CPRT), a UK-based non-governmental organisation.According to Mushtaq, the Rs2,000 per month educational expenses of Abdul Museeb were being paid by the project. Abdul Museeb also didn’t let down his patrons and topped his school in the secondary school certificate examination.

Mushtaq Khan said Museeb is a very talented boy. He outshined his classmates both in the curricular as well as extracurricular activities. He also stood first in a recent swimming competition in the Edwardes College.

Abdul Museeb said that after getting the patronage of the Al-Khidmat Foundation, he faced no difficulty in pursuing his studies and supporting his family. “They brought me to the point that I lost the feeling of being poor. Now I consider myself equal to my class-fellows belonging to well-off families,” he remarked.

Mushtaq Khan said the project was launched in 2012 by setting up a centre of informal education for the street children at Akhunabad in Peshawar.Currently, three such centres were being run at Akhunabad, Wazir Colony and Charsadda Road where 150 street children were enrolled.

According to Mushtaq Khan, the centres were set up in private schools where informal education was imparted to the street children in the evening. “The school owners don’t charge any rent for the schools,” he added.

He said there were plans to set up two more centres in Kohat and Dir Lower districts. “We also have a segment of formal education under which the children are admitted to formal schools,” he explained.

Mushtaq Khan felt it was the most difficult job to ensure attendance of street children in an education centre whether formal or informal. He maintained the government gave them no support.

He said they also impart different skills to children who have no interest in reading, to make them useful members of the society. He added that the street children are assisted in starting small businesses.

He counted a number of success stories of the kids who used to collect scrap and were now running small businesses.About selection of the kids, he said they conduct surveys in different parts of the provincial capital on regular basis to collect data about the street children and talk to their parents to enroll them in the centres.

The street children admitted in the centres of informal education are not forced to quit their jobs. They do their job in the morning and attend two-hour classes in the evening. Interestingly, the Al-Khidmat Foundation has hired only six staff members to take care of 150 children.

The provincial government has also made plans for the street children. The most recent one is ‘Zama Kor’ established in the government-owned residential flats on Charsadda Road, but it has failed to take off. In fact, the number of staff members at the centre is higher than the street children admitted there.


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