Pakistan Libraries Project Fundraiser a Huge Success
By Haya Farooqui
“We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.”
- Sir Winston Churchill.
It was heartening to see that even in these tenebrous economic times when there is global chaos,the Pakistani community of Southern California, enthusiastically participated in a very unique fundraiser held on March 1, 2009, for creating libraries in schools in different parts of Pakistan.
The contribution to the Libraries Project will help create rural and provincial-based school and community libraries, ensuring students gain the life skills needed for productive and meaningful participation in their local and global communities.
The event was held under the aegis of Relief International (www.RI.org) at the beautiful Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach resort.
Adorned with several paintings (that were donated by local artists for silent auction to PLP) the reception area gave the impression of walking into an art gallery, thus providing a preview to the even more elegantly decorated ballroom where the event took place.
The program was driven by two dynamic mc’s, Salma Basravi and Afroze Hussaini who managed to maintain an even flow throughout
the afternoon and created a lively atmosphere with their charming wit. One of the guest speakers, Mrs.Fiza Shah, founder of Dil (Development in Literacy), reiterated the fact that this was a unique project and informed the audience that PLP will also be providing books to DIL schools as well as other NGO schools.
“The goal is to dramatically reduce illiteracy in Pakistan as a structural cause of poverty. Libraries provide children, youth and communities with access to a wide array of ideas and information and particularly provide girls and women
with empowerment through books they can read at school or at home. Also, since girls have to face the harshest resistance for going to schools we will make these books available to them so that even if they can’t come to school the books can go home with them,” exclaimed Dr. Salman Naqvi.
Dr. Salman and Dr. Farzana have been involved with Relief International since the Kashmir earthquake and have devoted their
time and energy to working on different projects with RI and also by visiting Pakistan regularly to witness their progress as well. RI has created more than 350 libraries in schools and has distributed more than 100,000 books and reached some 600,000 students in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The interesting aspect of the event was an inspirational speech by Mr. Qiaser Madad, a successful entrepreneur, who, even though he belonged to a very affluent and educated family of India, struggled to get his education in a small village
of Pakistan in a madrasa style school where students are required to sit on the floor and the school is closed down if the teacher doesn’t show up. But credit goes to Mr. Qaiser because he proved that these primitive village schools do churn
out people like him who manage to turn their business into a multimillion dollar company.
The highlight of the evening was a live performance by Salman Ahmed of Junoon fame, who, enthralled the audience by singing
his famous Sufi/rock compositions and took some of us down memory lane. It was great to see the youngsters articipating with Salman in singing numbers like Bullea and Dil Dil Pakistan.