A lot has been happening recently.
The global pandemic has raised new challenges and magnified some underlying issues, simultaneously proving just how vulnerable yet interconnected we all are. We have to step up to those new challenges without losing focus on solving the problems in hand. Undoubtedly, we are living in a fast-changing world.
In 2019 American Refugee Committee became Alight. We embraced the new name, dropping the label ‘refugee’ to emphasize human dignity, but even more importantly, we re-oriented our mission and values, becoming a genuinely human-centric organization. For us being human-centric means responding to the needs of the people and aligning our work to the principles of justice, equality, and dignity.
Education is the best investment in the future, and in the last three years, we have put much effort into making sure that access to education is not a privilege but the norm. One in every five children around the globe is out of school. In Pakistan, an estimated 20 million children between the ages 6-16 have no access to basic education. In collaboration with Education Above All Foundation, we have run the ‘Educate a Child’ program specially designed for out-of-school children in Pakistan. We worked in partnership with government and non-governmental organizations, and managed to find – or make – a place in school for over one million children. That is a remarkable achievement, a battle won, but not yet a triumph. There are still millions upon millions of children who need access to learning.
As we run our flagship education campaign, we have not forgotten – or forgone – our other projects and undertakings. We continue to improve lives and build sustainable futures through our livelihood and skill development programs, we are caring for mothers and children through our health and nutrition interventions, and to continue building disaster resilience. Recently, it was the COVID-19 pandemic that required our action, and we strive to spread awareness, provide food to those who lost means of livelihood, and enhance the capacity of healthcare facilities to effectively tackle the patient load.
We work where we are most needed, and the needs of all people of the country will continue to drive our future efforts. We have a vision for Pakistan where everyone can thrive, not just survive. Moreover, we are determined to do a better thing together. We invite anyone and everyone to co-create breakthrough solutions with us, from local grassroots organizations to international partners.
We would be honored to have you with us on this journey of giving.
Tariq H. Cheema, MD