Tuesday January 18, 2022

GCT, SAF join hands to promote education in country

January 15, 2022

LAHORE:Green Crescent Trust (GCT) and Shahid Afridi Foundation (SAF) held a star-studded night at a local hotel here Thursday to raise funds for opening schools.

Right now, together they are running 155 schools across the country and targeting to start another 100 schools in future. They are educating 29,000 children at present and aim to take the number of students to 100,000. MILKAR, the largest volunteer network in Pakistan were the network partners in this event. MILKAR connects people, skills and good causes.

Renowned showbiz stars Anwar Maqsood and Adnan Siddiqui, leading cricket stars Shahid Afridi and Ahmad Shahzad, squash legend Jahangir Khan, former hockey skipper Olympian Shahbaz Senior, young squash player Naveed Khan, Dr Amjad Saqib of Akhuwwat, Zahid Saeed CEO GCT and more than 200 leading businessmen attended the event.

Anwar Maqsood lauded the services of Zahid Saeed, Shahid Afridi, Shahbaz Senior and Adnan Siddiqui. He also entertained the audience with his subtle humour. “Cricketers would pray not to be asked to speak English. When Shahid Afridi observed his fellow cricketers speak English, he decided to educate the masses,” he said, evoking laughter in the audience.

He also read a letter from Allama Iqbal he would have written had he been alive. “What have we done to Pakistan in 75 years?’ and ‘All problems can be resolved through dialogue”, he would ask. In his letter Iqbal said he wanted to see all the children entering school gates and thanked Zahid Saeed and Shahid Afridi for educating children.

Anwar Maqsood recalled how many years ago, a little boy came over to him at an event and requested if he could have a picture with him. That boy was Shahid Afridi. “Today, I want to have a picture with Afridi,” he said.

Shahid Afridi, who joined GCT five years ago in its endeavour to educate children, is totally investing in girls’ education. He has five daughters and believes that educating a girl means educating a family. “We are introducing IT labs in schools and our focus is on education and skills. Recently, we have given 22 scholarships to children in our schools,” he said.

He said SAF is catering to provision of education and water in the outskirts of main cities where most of the marginalised communities are living. “SAF is spending Rs30,000 on each student per annum. A Mother and Child Health Promotion Centre run by SAF in Malikpur, Lahore has 4,532 beneficiaries. Another hospital - Sahibzada Fazal Rehman Hospital is working in Tangi Banda, Kohat”, he added.

Zahid Saeed, CEO GCT started work on schools in 1994. They were five friends who all came from business families. They targeted to open schools where there’s no such facility. It took Rs45 lakh to open a school back then.

“We would rent a building, renovate it, get teachers and start a school with around 200 children. Presently, we want sponsorship for 10,000 students,” Saeed said, adding that by 2025 we want to educate 100,000 children and setting up 250 schools”. A business family of Lahore also constructed a school in Mithi, Zahid Saeed told the audience. In the end, Adnan Siddiqui, the TV and film star took charge of the show, calling people to pitch-in for the good cause. Businessmen contributed generously to the cause and star players signed bats, balls, rackets and hockey sticks for which biddings were done and eventually they fetched good amount of donations.

The programme opened with Qirat, Naat and then a speech from students. Children also presented National Anthem in the ceremony. Students from GCT-SAF school, Thar also entertained the audience with Thari group dance.

Old students of the GCT schools also shared their success stories. One of them from Naushehro Feroze district graduated in computer science and now a part of visiting faculty of FAST University Karachi. Another had graduated from IBA and now is working with Shahid Afridi. There were many such boys.

The audience left the ceremony energized and with high hopes. When people pitch-in in nation-building, there is a different kind of energy in the air - kudos to GCT-SAF’s initiatives.