By: Ammara Bokhari | Director of Global Projects | Thaakat Foundation
It’s official, our dreams for Kachra Kundi are finally coming true! Thaakat is proud to announce that our school’s classrooms opened its doors to 68 eager students and today boasts 325 students in attendance with more waiting. Some of them traveling from as far as five kilometers away at the opportunity to attend. Fourteen teachers have been appointed, with six to seven more planning to come on board. The subjects being taught are: English, Math, Science, Social Science, Art, Urdu, and Sindhi (the commonly spoken Urdu dialect of the region). 250 desks are ready to use, a water tank has been installed on a nearby hill, and bathrooms are currently being completed. This would not have been possible without all of Thaakat’s amazing supporters! Thank you for believing in the dream and letting us get this far! #lethedreambe’ Stay tuned for new pictures!
Construction of the school called Al-Khair Campus III, began early this year. Our partner Idara Al-Khair managed construction throughout its entire process and we’re so pleased with the results!
You may remember the launch of our “Dreams for Kachra Kundi” campaign last summer. How exactly did we come to where we are today with this project, from a simple dream of bettering a community to launching an officially up and running school? Below is a quick guide to help you understand:
Project Overview: Building a school in Pakistan, located in a clean and safe environment to educate the underprivileged children of Kachra Kundi, who have dreams to rise up and make something of themselves. The school currently has 9 completed classrooms which will serve primary and secondary level teachings.
What is Kachra Kundi? An enormous garbage dump area in the village of Jam Chakro, a 45 minute drive from Karachi, Pakistan. Garbage from the city of Karachi is dumped around the clock here. Kachra Kundi translates in Urdu to mean “Garbage District”.
Who lives in Kachra Kundi and what do they do? More than 300 families live among the garbage and every family member earns a living by collecting recyclables (iron, copper, bones, plastic, etc.) from massive hills of burning waste as there are no composting or recycling processes available.
Do we have a partner organization that is doing the work in Pakistan? Yes! Thaakat initially learned of the project through em[POWER] who was working in the area to research sorting processes in the waste to bring a more economical way of living to the community. em[POWER] Energy Group, Inc. is a New Jersey-registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization that seeks to revitalize landfill communities throughout the world using a modular and scalable cooperative development model based on renewable resources.
Thaakat then contacted on site partner Idara Al-Khair, a welfare organization in Pakistan. It was founded by a man named Mohammad Mazahir Sheikh, who had a dream to help educate the poor children of Pakistan more than 25 years ago. Dawn News, GEO, and other Pakistani media outlets have interviewed Mazahir and did inspiring pieces on his organization’s work in Kachra Kundi. Their first school was in Mustafa Colony, which started out with just a few students two decades ago, and now boasts 2,200 children who learn daily in the 200 classrooms of the school. Thaakat has had a great partnership with Idara and is so appreciative of the individual attention they give to each child. Check out the video featuring footage from a Dawn News segment: Kachra Kundi on Dawn News
Why are we helping them? Garbage is burned daily, which has caused excessive pollution and disease. Not only are the residents of Kachra Kundi deprived of civic facilities like clean water, shelter, and electricity, but there had previously been zero access to education in this village- making these children oblivious to the outside world. Previous to Idara Al-Khair entering the village, the site’s volunteer doctor described the children as having maggots in their ears and flies nesting in sores on their bodies. They did not wash their faces and had become so regular to ingesting the burning fumes.
Eight years ago, our partner Idara Al-Khair brought in 16 teachers to educate the children of Kachra Kundi. They run a primary school in the midst of the garbage and we are now building a large combined secondary and primary school in a clean and safe area, which will be away from the central hazard area. We hope to see these children go onto college one day! Our school is called Al-Khair Campus III.
What is #lethedreambe’? I’ve seen this on Facebook! A fundraising campaign we launched in March 2012 to inspire people to donate to our project. The campaign is led by a team that strategizes ways to grow this campaign and our funding. They come up with catchy ideas, logos, pictures, videos, events, etc. and from it came the #lethedreambe’ hashtag so it could go viral. The campaign has its own page on Facebook, which you can follow by clicking here along with a fundraising page on Crowdrise. In 2011 we fundraised to build the 9 classrooms for the new site. The #lethedreambe’ team is now trying to raise funding to construct more classrooms and provide desks, teaching boards, water connections, and other facilities. The team members include: Faizan Zaidi (NJ), Ridah Manan (NJ), Aarish Mustafa (IL), Ammara Bokhari (IL), Nudrat Zoha (IL), Zoha Hussain (IL), Sarah Mobin (IL). Feel free to reach out to any of these people via Facebook for more information or comments.
Has Thaakat ever visited Kachra Kundi? Yes! A couple Thaakateers have visited the site and met with our partner organization! Uzma Bawany-Ali visited Kachra Kundi on her trip to Pakistan in December 2011. Faizan Zaidi visited Kachra Kundi during his trip to Pakistan in summer of 2011 (his pictures have been included throughout this fact sheet!). Check out the links below of Youtube videos Uzma made on her trip to Kachra Kundi:
Who are the Al-Khair Tigers? The Al-Khair Tigers are a mighty soccor team made up students of the Kachra Kundi area. Idara Al-Khair helped set up the team in 2012, strongly believing in promoting healthy extra cirrucular activities that will keep the children active. These mighty little Tigers are so good that they’ve been selected to take part in a competition organized by Zong Pakistan (a cellular phone company) in partnership with Manchester United. The Tigers are competing for being selected to attend a 1-week soccer training school in the United Kingdom!
How can people donate to this project? Please visit http://www.thaakat.wordpress.com/donate to view various donation options!
Timeline of Project Updates:
Summer 2011: Began fundraising; Faizan Zaidi visited Kachra Kundi site.
December 2011: Purchased land to build school and began construction; Uzma Bawany-Ali visited project site.
January 2012: Walls of the school are up and construction of nine classrooms is completed. Construction of the restrooms and digging for water connection piping begins.
February 2012: Thaakat meets with the former Governor of Sindh, General Moinuddin Haider to talk about Kachra Kundi and learn about their needs. Mr. Haider learned of Idara Al-Khair’s work in educating children of poor villages near Karachi during his time as Governor of Sindh and was greatly inspired by it mentioning, “…when these children complete their 10-years of education, we want them to go to college, which will enable them to go to an engineering college or a medical college or some professional college.” Indeed, Thaakat has the same goal for these children!
March 2012: Launched #lethedreambe’ campaign and formed a volunteer team that leads this campaign.
April 2012: The Al-Khair Tigers soccer team is formed for the Kachra Kundi kids to take part in.
May 2012: Bathrooms are constructed; parents start inquiring about registration which should open shortly. 100 desks are completed for the classrooms. With the region’s extreme summer heat in mind, the desks are made of steel legs to be strong and wooden tops, so that they won’t absorb heat.
June 2012: The classrooms officially launched! 68 students attended the first day of classes, with some children traveling as far as 5 kilometers just to attend. Two teachers have been appointed and 250 desks are ready to be used! A water tank for the school is set on a nearby hill. Congratulations Thaakat on this exciting launch! As of July 30, 2012 we have 325 students in attendance!