For a Softer, Subtler Image of Pakistan
By Farhana Mohamed, PhD
MGYW office-bearers present the soft
image of Pakistan
Following its successes in promoting education among the underprivileged young women of Pakistan, MGYW - Pakistani American Forum/Merit Grants for Young Women - was invited to participate in a family cultural night showcasing Pakistan. The family cultural night was organized to celebrate the successful completion of Greg Mortenson’s “Pennies for Peace” fundraising project (www.penniesforpeace.org) at the Washington School, San Gabriel. This special event was organized by Tee Ming Ooi and Senya Lubisich of Washington School’s PTA.
As a background, with the recent turbulent events unfolding in Pakistan, especially in the northern belt, importance of education of masses – especially for girls - cannot be over-emphasized. Greg Mortenson has made commendable endeavors to open schools in the sensitive northern areas of Pakistan as well as in Afghanistan. In 1993 as a mountaineer, Mortenson was trying to conquer the K-2 summit in honor of his younger deceased sister, Christa. However, in order to save life of one of his fellow trackers, he had to abandon the expedition and, in the process, got lost finally reaching Korphe village in the northeastern Pakistan. He was greatly moved by the hospitality accorded to him by the Balti tribe despite their heart-stricken poverty. He returned to Korphe in 1995 to open the first school and then followed with 79 more in the tribal remote areas of Pakistan (and Afghanistan). In order to collect funds for his lifelong project, Mortenson came up with the “Pennies for Peace” project (www.penniesforpeace.org). This year Mortenson was awarded Sitara-e- Pakistan by the government of Pakistan for his tireless efforts in opening 80 schools that educate 28,000 children, with almost two-thirds girls.
Over 120 adults and children attended the event to introduce Pakistani culture to children and their families. The MGYW Board Directors who participated in the event included Iffat Ali, Nasreen Pervaiz, Dilshad Shah, and Farhana Mohamed. In addition, Riaz and Yasmeen Khan participated on behalf of the West San Gabriel Valley Muslim Community.
The MGYW board members displayed elegant Pakistani jewelry, shawls, and handicrafts from MGYW boutique collection and Co-Operatives in Pakistan. There were displays of beautiful posters and brochures depicting Pakistan’s historical and scenic sites, Urdu alphabet handouts, along with informational material about MGYW. In addition, Huda Kazmi and Jayson rendered enchanting Pakistani music and songs. It was heartening to see the attendees taking great interest in the exhibits and asking numerous questions about Pakistan and, of course, MGYW. Some little kids were also using their cameras to capture the special moment.
One interesting item to note is that the connection between the Washington School and Pakistani community was made through one of the officials at the Consulate General of Malaysia and Tee Ming Ooi, a Malaysian-American. They thought no better way to celebrate the commendable fundraising done by the school children than to involve the Pakistani community.
Note for the readers: To find out about MGYW’s vision and mission, please visit its website at: www.mgyw.org. The MGYW is also holding its annual fundraising dinner at Dandana Restaurant ( Glendora, California) on June 13, 2009, at 6:30 p.m. For more information, please write to: firstname.lastname@example.org.