Friday, 26 June 2015

Help Educate Girls in Pakistan - Zarina Shamim Scholarship Program (ZSSP)

A recent report on state of education in Pakistan titled “25 Million Broken Promises” highlights that there are currently 25 million boys and girls between the ages of 5 and 16 who are not in school. Girls make up more than half of all out of school children.



Education is one of the most critical areas of empowerment for women. It is also an area that offers some of the clearest examples of discrimination women suffer. An educated woman has the skills, information and self-confidence that she needs to be a better parent, worker and citizen. Cost of education and poverty are two key reasons among many barriers to girls education.













While the State has failed to provide universal education facilities to all its citizens, private and charitable educational institutions are doing sterling work to fill the gap. One such great example is the Ala-ud-Din Academy Girls High School and the Zarina Shamim Scholarship Programme. I reproduce below an email from Zareen Niazi, Executive Director of the school highlighting the achievements so far and inviting everyone to join in and help.

Dear Family and Friends,


I am writing to request your support and active participation in our Zarina Shamim Scholarship Program (ZSSP) http://www.zsscholarships.org/ to help young women in Pakistan attain higher, as well as professional education. 

Since ZSSP’s inception in 2007, we have grown to successfully fund 81 scholarships for young women to attend college, university and even professional education.  This has been a wonderful journey for me personally, and I have seen first-hand the benefits that education can bring to young women with so much potential.   Yet, while we are making a small difference in our country, the number of young women who cannot afford higher education in Pakistan continues to increase.
 


I am pleased to inform you that our very first two scholarship holders from the first batch of ZSSP have completed their medical degrees.  First young woman is Umm e Rubab, who graduated fromKing Edward Medical College, Lahore and second is Hira Nasser who has graduated from Alama Iqbal Medical College, Lahore.  Both have now started their house jobs. 

Several other scholarship holders have now completed their B.Sc. (Honors) degrees and are working and helping their families financially. 

Currently, we are paying 81 (eighty one) girls for their college, university and professional education.  In addition, there are about 80 students of our school and 15 (fifteen) students of Computer Technology Center are being supported by ZSSP. 

I have seen first-hand that young women have much more meaningful lives once they are empowered financially, physically and emotionally. We believe that ZSSP has the great opportunity to empower many more women to achieve their potential in making a profound difference in their lives and communities.

The Matric result for the year 2014-15 is due at the end of July 2015.  Currently, we are interviewing girls who have been short-listed and recommended by our Scholarship Committee.  Final selection of winners will be made after the Matric result.  There is huge potential and we hope that the number of students, with college education scholarships, will further go up with your generous support. 
We are thankful for your continued support and hope that your contributions will keep flowing.  You can help by:

  1. Sponsoring a school student by donating Rs.2500/- (U$ 25/-) per month.  This includes tuition fee, books and stationery expenses.
  1. Sponsoring a school student by donating Rs.3000/- (U$ 30/-) per month.  This includes tuition fee, books, stationery and a bag.
  1. Sponsoring a school student by donating Rs.3500/- (U$ 35/-) per month.  This includes tuition fee, books, stationery, bag and two uniforms.
  1. Sponsoring a girl for college education by donating Rs.6000/- (U$ 60/-) per month or Rs 72,000/- (U$ 720/-) per year.  This includes tuition fee, books and stationery expenses.  
  1. Contributing any amount to ZSSF for girls' school, college and / or university education.
  1. Creating a scholarship in the name of someone whom you want to recognize and honor.  This will be one time payment as seed money.  The money to start such a scholarship is Rs. 500,000/- (U$ 5000/-)  
  • Donating through our website via PayPal and Major Credit Cards.
  • Making donations via cross checks - in the name of "ALDA - Zarina Shamim Scholarships Fund"
  • Depositing your donations directly in the following accounts: 
  • Mailing your donation checks to Ala-ud-Din Academy, 114 Danyal Street, Pakistani Bazaar, Baghbanpura, Lahore, Pakistan; Tel:  +92-42-36848061, +92-42-36841594
Payments can be made by:

Bank Al Habib Ltd., G.T. Road, Baghbanpura, Lahore, Pakistan
Account Name: ALDA - Zarina Shamim Scholarship Fund
Account #:  0047 0081 000355 01 4 

BOP, G.T Road, Baghbanpura, Lahore, Pakistan   
Account Name: Ala-ud-Din Academy - Scholarship Endowment Fund 
Account #: 4294126-0830047: 0060180008

Please visit our website for further information on ALDA and ZSSP; http://alauddinacademy.edu.pk/ & http://www.zsscholarships.org/  

To view photos of Scholarship Function - September 2014, please click the link below; http://www.zsscholarships.org/gallery.php

Please share this information with your friends, family, colleagues and supporters who may want to contribute to this cause.

I look forward to your help, time and financial support. It will make a huge difference!

Best regards,

Zareen Niazi
Executive Director
Ala-ud-Din Academy, Girls' High School

Cell; +92 333 4672177

This is a worthy cause so please join in and contribute as much as you can.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Donate safely this Ramadan - Check your charity before you give

According to reports Muslims in the UK donated over 100 million to charities last Ramadan. This was a conservative estimate that did not include donations to local mosques, private charity and donations to non-Muslim charities.



Unfortunately, not every penny given for charity reaches the deserving. Whilst most of the charities are legitimate and work hard to make your charitable pennies work harder, there are those who do not hesitate to exploit the generosity of others even in this holy month.

Charity Commission in the UK have listed the following top ten tips to help you make the right choice when donating your money for the good causes.
Presence of a Registered Charity number on a website/brochure/letter from a charity is not evidence that a charity is legitimate. Please check the charity's name and registration number against the online charity search tool.
  1. Before giving, check the charity's name and registration number against the online charity search tool: Find a charity - register of charities
  2. Fundraisers require a licence from the local authority (or the Police in London) to collect in a public place. Check that they have this. If the collection is in a privately owned place, check that they have the owner's permission.
  3. When approached by collectors, check whether they are wearing a proper ID badge and that any collection tin is sealed.
  4. If in doubt, ask the collector for more information - a genuine fundraiser should be happy to answer questions and explain more about the work of the charity.
  5. Genuine fundraising materials should feature the charity's name, registered name and a land-line contact number. Be wary of those that list only a mobile number.
  6. Make sure when you give to radio and television appeals that the process is secure. Ofcom lists the rules for radio and television charity appeals on its website: Licensing - Ofcom website
  7. Take care when responding to emails or clicking links to a charity's website to ensure that they are genuine. Instead, search online for your chosen charity to check you have the right web address. For further guidance see: Guidance for donors - Get Safe Online
  8. Carefully review collection bags for clothing and household goods to ascertain whether they are from a genuine charity.
  9. After making these checks, if you think that a collection or appeal is not legitimate, report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 and inform the Charity Commission: Action Fraud - Police
  10. Don't be pressurised to give to a collection immediately. If in any doubt, donate directly to charity.
Charity's Commission has also produced this very useful video to help avoid giving your charity to wrong people and charities.



Sunday, 1 February 2015

Ethnic cleansing of Doctors in Pakistan - Does the Consulate General Pakistan in Manchester care!

A very organised campaign on murdering medical doctors is being carried out in Karachi Pakistan. Majority of the murdered doctors belong to Shia minority who have been and are a target of ethnic cleansing being carried out by well known religious extremist outfits. There is no evidence that law enforcement agencies in Pakistan are capable of dealing with this menace and provide security to those whose job it is to save lives. Numbers of medical professionals murdered in cold blood now runs in hundreds. Association of Doctors of Pakistani origin in the US produced a list of names of victims of this organised campaign. The list which is up to date as of last summer paints a chilling picture.


Concerned medical professionals and other members of the Pakistani community in the North West have been running an awareness campaign on this issue and launched a petition that was signed by hundreds of concerned citizens of Pakistani origin.

On Sunday February 1, 2015  a group of representatives staged a vigil in front of the Consulate General in Manchester and planned to present the signed petition to the Consul General. Authorities at the Consulate were informed and Greater Manchester Police were at there helpful best to facilitate a peaceful and silent vigil.




Representatives of the community held the vigil in freezing cold temperature with a significant support from passer-byes. It is greatly disappointing that no one from the Consulate General turned up to receive the petition. Couple of Consulate staff were visible inside the building taking photos of the vigil using their smart phone but did not engage with the members of the vigil or came out to receive the petition.

The vigil today was a non-political, non-partisan act by members of civil society who want the government in Pakistan to engage and act. Treatment and response from the Consulate General in Manchester begs the question whether the authorities in Pakistan and their representatives in Manchester care about the on going ethnic cleansing of medical profession in Pakistan and are willing to engage with the civil society.


Saturday, 20 December 2014

Lest we forget - we are responsible and we need to act to save Pakistan

Lest we forget: we were given (not forced) money to breed snakes. When the money ran out, we continued to feed and breed the snakes thinking it will only bite whoever we ask it to bite.

Snakes are now a large family living in our house which they think is legitimately theirs and want us to leave or become snakes ourselves. Doesn't help dwelling upon who paid for making these snakes.

We have been doing this for the last three decades. Result is that the snakes have multiplied and mutated - just look at all sorts of mutated snakes trying to find all sorts of poisons (arguments) to support their brethren.

Yes, justice will be hurt, rights will be trampled, innocent will become involved - but when removing a filthy gangrene you sometimes have to cut the healthy organs as well. Sound cruel, but it saves the body.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Brutal massacre of school children in Peshawar

What is a bigger tragedy: Brutal massacre of 126 school children and their teachers, or that the nation of 200 million immediately pointing fingers at Arabs, Uzbeks, Tajiks, Indians, and others. Still not looking into the mirror to look at the real terrorist and dealing with it. Every single one of us has contributed to this day with our apathy. Only victims today are the 126 deceased and their loved ones. Every one else had their fingers on the trigger. إِنَّا لِلّهِ وَإِنَّـا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعون

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Tasting the Sky: A Palestinian Childhood

Found these verses on Palestinian peace so very haunting:
“To Alef, the letter
that begins the alphabets
of both Arabic and Hebrew-
two Semitic languages,
sisters for centuries.

May we find the language
that takes us
to the only home there is -
one another's hearts.

...

Alef knows
That a thread
Of a story
Stitches together
A wound.”
― Ibtisam Barakat, Tasting the Sky: A Palestinian Childhood