I used to see innocent faces of slum area kids; black with sun, sunk in bellies of skeletons because of hunger, dim eyes showing no awareness of being alive, and, half-dressed, no matter it is winter or summer. Sometimes, I saw them in streets, begging. Sometimes, they are seen working in motor workshops, general stores, tailoring shops, construction points, and even in the sports clubs, looking lifeless and defeated. Gypsy tents are full of this flock. I was shocked to know many of these kids wanted to go to school, just to see what happened there. They wanted to experience and enjoy the school activities without any awareness or aim to attain a certain educational level.
Every time, I thought of probability of a miracle or coming of an angel who would drag them out of this misery with a mighty hand and promise them a promising and honorable life- decades melted in wishing and dreaming so- then, I came across Aabroo school, a social welfare organizaion. Initially, it was the center of social work of my boys’ school. After this first introduction, I came to know about more details of this educational welfare project. My curiosity aroused and finally I decided to visit the place.
I met Rubina Shakeel, who was the founding and managing angel. I was so inspired by her school that finally I decided to interview her and writing a feature about the school.
A Brief School History
Aabroo Educational Welfare Organization was set up and registered in 2002. The school started with teaching five children of housemaids under a car porch. The neighbors were requested to donate their waste stationary and home waste material to bear the educational expenses of these kids.
In about 12 years, five charity schools are being run by Aabroo Educational Welfare Organization, providing over 2500 children with education.
Jhuggi (Gypsy) Schools & Young Workers of Car Workshops
Apart from five branches of Aabroo Schools, they run 300 Jhuggi schools as well, where they teach gypsy kids Urdu and Islamiyat.
Moreover, they have convinced owners of some car-workshops to let their young workers study for two hours daily. Teachers of Aabroo School go there to teach them.
Nishter Park Double-shift School
I visited Nishter Park branch. It’s an 8:00-5:00 school, divided into two shifts. Moring shift is till grade two, whereas grades three to matriculation classes are held in the afternoon. It’s a full-fledged traditional school teaching all six subjects: English, Urdu, Math, Science, Islamiyat and Pakistan Studies.
Vocational Training as tailoring, computer education, cell phone repair is a must so that they can earn independently once they finish school. Most of the children go to their work places after school too, so school encourages them complete their school work while being at school.
All the educational expanses including uniform, books, stationary, food, medical care, building facility and educational equipment are provided by the school. Initially, people were asked to donate all their extra furniture, home waste and educational material as books, stationary, and toys to school. Time to time different private branded schools and social welfare NGOs helped them to keep up their educational services.
Indoor and Outdoor Classes
I visited the classes. Some classes have rooms, but most of the classes were held in the long verandas that have painted walls. They have proper teaching and learning system. Even a teacher, black boards and a few student benches work. Teachers are monitored by the school admin to maintain the educational standard. Their notebooks are also supervised regularly for the same purpose.
Confident & Ambitious Students
I spoke to the kids of all the classes. They smiled back to me and behaved politely. They were very well-versed, confident, clear minded and confident. They all loved education and seemed ambitious for becoming professionals in different areas.
Fight for Education
I was told that their parents came to inquire when their school would end. They wanted them to leave the school to be a part of their earning activities. But school is always there to support their students, convincing and motivating these parents. Parents are invited on tea for courtesy meetings and winning over their support for the children. Many times, kids fight for themselves to continue their education.
After matriculation, school supports their brilliant students to go to college.
Giving them a normal school experience, regular sports opportunities are being scheduled. Big brands as Lahore Grammar School and some others invite them to friendly matches. Thus, these kids get exposure and confidence that they are no less then well-to-do kids. School trips are arranged and special occasions are being celebrated for the same purposes. A library has been set up to satisfy their urge for reading other than text books. Moral education and etiquettes training are parts of all academic and co-curricular activities. By the end of the day, school wants them to live like civilized and honorable citizens.
Regular Health Care for Students
A doctor volunteers three hours daily to provide the students with medical care including medical checkup, medication and hospitalization. Also, cows and buffaloes are bred there to give them breakfast of pure fresh milk and biscuits. After school they enjoy freshly homemade lunch arranged by Aabroo School.
We have to give back through fighting this war for ourselves and for our new generations. Our small donations can give life to many souls buried in poverty. It will turn ignorance into awareness, wildness into civilization, crime into construction, and, hatred into empathy and compassion. For that we need not to go for an extra mile, all we need to do is to be sensitive about these kids. You can donate for the social welfare through educating these unprivileged kids.
Just inform how can you contribute to Aabroo Educational Welfare Organization and they will facilitate you to do so.
Address: 153-B/P111 G.E.C.H.S. Link Road Model Town, Lahore.