MGYW Fundraiser for Empowerment through Education
By Farhana Mohamed, PhD
Glimpses of the fundraiser
Keeping up with the vision to empower impoverished young women through education, the Pakistani American Forum’s Merit Grants for Young Women (MGYW) project has been successful in bringing positive changes in the lives of many girls raised in impoverished rural and urban families of Pakistan.
Since its inception in the mid-2000, MGYW has made significant achievements such as providing individual sustained monetary support to hundreds of meritorious young women from poor families. The MGYW also supports sound non-profit schools in impoverished neighborhoods that primarily provide education to girls. It has also entered into memorandum of understanding (MOUs) with three notable Pakistani NGOs, which provide educational support to over 13,000 students (about 9,000 girls) throughout rural and urban Pakistan.
This year MGYW has initiated efforts to provide “economic stimulus” to young women by purchasing handicrafts prepared in their cooperatives sponsored by the MGYW partners and selling those items in the United States. For more information and online donations, the readers are invited to visit the website at: www.mgyw.org.
Since raising funds is critical for continuing success of a non-profit public benefit corporation like MGYW, a fundraiser was held recently at the elegant Shalimar Restaurant in Southern California. The multi-talented emcee, Essam ul Haq, followed the Qur’anic recitation by young siblings, Haseeb and Sadia Khan. He provided a vibrant hue to the program with his wit, humor, and compassionate appeals.
Dr. Farhana Mohamed furnished highlights on the MGYW project and its notable achievements. She mentioned some stark economical statistics from the UNESCO, Asian Development Bank, Pakistan Economic Survey and US Census Bureau. For example, compared to the US per capita income of $73/day, Pakistan’s per capita income is $3/day with 37% of the population making a mere $1/day or less. Pakistan’s 65% population is rural with 66% of that segment earning $1/day or less.
Pakistan Consul Ahsan Wagan, who graced the occasion, applauded MGYW for making efforts to provide sustainable educational support to the young under-privileged Pakistani women. He enumerated efforts made by the Pakistani government in enhancing education and mentioned that with the present government and NGO efforts, the literacy rate in Pakistan will rise to 90% in the next 15 years. He also mentioned that the literacy rate has risen from a dismal15% at independence (1947) to the present approximating 55%.
The highlights of the program included a glittering clothing, shawls, and jewelry boutique, volunteer award distribution by Dr. Atiq Siddiki, and donor award distribution by Consul Wagan. The program concluded with fabulous musical performances by Ashraf Ali, Arshad Ali, and famed vocalist Hanif Noor Mohamed.
The MGYW Directors, who made the program a standout success included Azra Said, Dilshad Shah, Farhana Mohamed, Farida Merchant, Iffat Zafar Ali, Iram Iqbal, Samina Haq, and Zille Zaman. The Board is grateful to Essam ul Haq, Ashraf Ali, Arshad Ali, Siddiquis of Shalimar Restaurant, Riaz and Yasmeen Khan, Osman Mohamed, and Minam ul Haq for their dedication and support.
(Photographs: Courtesy Carla Fallberg & Ashraf Ali)