Published: 25th August 2017
These siblings are on a mission to educate every Pakistani street kid
Hasan is just 16 and Shireen is 14. These siblings run a steert school in Karachi to educate the underprivileged children
Call it a third world problem, but almost all of us have seen children beg on the street. So did Hasan Zafar and Shireen Zafar. So when a street kid walked upto them in Karachi a couple of years ago, they didn't feel any different. But then she didn't ask them for money. Instead she wanted something else. " Kya aap mujay padhaingay?" (Will you teach me?), she asked them.
At that time Hasan was 14 and Shireen was 12. But so what? They thought of giving it a shot. They started teaching her in an open plot near their apartment. Today, The Street School by Hasan and Shireen has two branches today, where they teach around 200 students. "Most of our students are street children who are mostly roaming on streets selling tissue papers and begging for money. We also have some of the adults studying in our school. Most of them are our students' parents," says Hasan. The school is open on five days a week, except Saturdays and Sundays.
Our best success is that we made children who were not even able to grab pencils study and developed their interest in education
Hasan Zafar and Shireen Zafar, founders, The Street School by Hasan and Shireen
Seeing their friends go to school, a few other children too started attending classes. But that wasn't it. They had to ensure that these kids attended the classes regularly. Also, convincing parents to send their children to school was no piece of cake. "In the beginning many parents stopped their kids from going to study as they wanted them to make money. So in order to convince their parents we thought of cash insensitive and other financial support," says Hasan. That did the trick. Parents no longer discourage their children from going to school.
Initially Hasan and Shireen would teach all the children. It was difficult for them to take time out from their day to day school work. But they had a solution - Give up all the extra curricular work. Giving up on the street school was unimaginable for them. Also, they have a few other staff who help them to teach. Money was again an issue for them. How would someone as young as 16 and 14 manage funds to run a school? The answer came as parents. "Our parents were quite happy when we proposed the idea to them for the first time. They were also a bit shocked as they thought that we were joking. But later when they came to know that we were too serious about the street school they promised to help us financially," says Hasan. Later, their friends and a few other well wishers too pitched in money. Still financial crunch isn't a new thing for this brother-sister duo. Nevertheless, the passion for teaching pushes them forward.
Happy faces: Shireen with one of her students
Hardwork did pay them quite well. In December 2016, they won the Global Youth Of The Year Award by the Government of Taiwan, where they were selected among youngsters from 100 countries. While they plan to expand the school and to teach more children, they also wish to bring peace between India and Pakistan. On August 15 this year, them along with their students sang the Indian national anthem and sent their independence day message to all the Indians. "Let there be peace between both the countries," they say.