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Sunday January 23, 2022

GCT-SAF fund-raising function: Shahid Afridi says invested totally in girls’ education

January 15, 2022
GCT-SAF fund-raising function: Shahid Afridi says invested totally in girls’ education

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

Together they run 155 schools across the country and target starting another 100 schools. They are educating 29,000 children at present and aim to take the number of students to 100,000.

Shahid Afridi, who joined GCT five years ago in its endeavour to educate children, said he invested totally 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 focus on education and skills. Recently, we have given 22 scholarships to children in our schools,” he said. SAF is catering to the provision of education and water in the outskirts of main cities where most of the marginalized communities reside. SAF puts the cost per student at Rs30,000 per annum.

Anwar Maqsood and Adnan Siddiqi from showbiz, Shahid Afridi and Ahmad Shahzad cricket star, Jahangir Khan squash star, Shahbaz Senior hockey star, Naveed Khan, the young squash star, Dr Amjad Saqib of Akhuwat, Zahid Saeed CEO GCT and dozens of CEOs of businesses graced the event.

Anwar Maqsood said Zahid Saeed, Shahid Afridi, Shahbaz Senior and Adnan Siddiqui are worth more than Pakistan’s budget. He entertained the audience with his subtle humour. “Cricketers would pray not to be called upon 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 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 with 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.

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.

A Mother and Child Health Promotion Centre, run by SAF in Malikpur Lahore, has 4,532 beneficiaries. Another hospital, Sahibzada Fazal Rehman Hospital is there in Tangi Banda, Kohat. 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 wasn’t one. It took Rs45 lakh to open a school back then. “We would rent a building, renovate it, get teachers and start a school with 200 children. We spend Rs1150 per child. The government spends Rs2500 per child. We want sponsorship for 10,000 students today,” Saeed said, adding, “By 2025 we want to educate 100,000 children and be running 250 schools”.

In the end, Adnan Siddiqui, the TV and film star, took charge of the show, calling people to pitch-in in the good cause. Businessmen contributed generously to the cause and star players signed bats, balls, rackets and hockey for which biddings were conducted and they fetched a good amount in donations.

The programme opened with Qirat, Naat and then a speech from students in these schools. National Anthem too was sung by children. There was a group dance of children from GCT-SAF school in Thar. They wore ethnic dresses. The song was Thari and the dance too was Thari. Lahore’s business family made a school in Mithi, Zahid Saeed told the audience.

Old students of the GCT schools shared their success stories. One of them from Naushahro Feroze district graduated in computer science and is in the visiting faculty of FAST University Karachi. Another had graduated from IBA and worked with Shahid Afridi.

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