Our campaign is made up of energetic, passionate individuals who are determined to bring disadvantaged children into schools that provide free quality primary education. These individuals come from different corners of Pakistan – these remarkable activists, teachers, and volunteers believe they must be the change they want to see in their communities.
This week, we highlight our champion who is our literacy mobilizer Naheed Bibi. Naheed became an orphan at an early age, losing her mother first when she was just 7 years old, a very delicate age for a growing child. To support her younger brother’s education, she had to ask people for pencils, sharpeners, even selling betel nuts to earn some money. Eventually, she would lose her brother, too, in the Taliban offensive in Swat in 2011.
Despite the suffering this activist endured, she was determined not to be a victim in her story. She had witnessed girls prevented from enrolling time and time again. She had experienced the devastating barrier that poverty is to accessing education. She had felt, at a personal level, the extreme exclusion that a child feels when kept away from a school, a school that is their fundamental right.
From working at a daycare to aid organisations and finally joining the Alight Pakistan family in June 2018, Naheed’s activist work has led her to Mansehra, Abbottabad, Haripur, Peshawar, Mardan, Swabi, Swat, Muzaffarabad, Bagh, and Rawalpindi. In her humanitarian campaign, she has to-date enroled 1,905 children. Congratulations, Naheed!
Her mobilization efforts include talking to business owners to fund students’ allowances and improvements to schools’ infrastructure. Earlier this year, she mobilized a Mansehra hotel owner to provide for a fan at a school. Her door-to-door campaigns have taken her from shops to hotels to bazaars – all with the intent to persuade local businesses to become active participants in the campaign to give our children free, quality primary education.
These businesses have successfully provided funds to improve schools’ infrastructure and equipped students with uniforms and shoes. Naheed’s eagerness and selflessness won her the PAGE 2019 Hero Award and a place in the International Visitor Exchange Program in 2017 under which she had the opportunity to take a cultural visit to the U.S with other social welfare workers. Under her tutelage, her district Mansehra won ARC’s district-level position in 2018 for their work in the area.
Her motivation comes entirely from the success of getting a child through a school’s door so they can become successful, happier individuals with a greater chance at a meaningful life. There are some 29,000 OOSC in Mansehra. With Naheed’s passion and selflessness, she may indeed be able to, as she wishes, one day reach them all. Naheed’s story is, indeed, a remarkable example of the extraordinary work that ordinary people do.