MGYW: Bridging the Gap from Karachi to Haripur
By Farhana Mohamed, MBA, PhD

On average, the gender literacy gap in Pakistan hovers at 18% and is even more daunting at about 30% in rural, remote, and slum areas of all four provinces. This year, in line with its mission of bridging this alarming gap, the Pakistani American Forum/Merit Grants for Young Women (MGYW) has initiated two unique innovative projects in Pakistan which will continue to provide sustained educational opportunities to about 100 girls residing in KPK and Sindh.

MGYW is facilitating education of about 35 girls hailing from Haripur District of Hazara Division in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) by bearing their transportation and educational expenses. This project was made possible by MGYW’s collaboration with Safeer Ahmed, a respectable teacher, social worker, and a long-time resident of Haripur, and Riaz Khan, CEO of MicroTrends, USA.

Due to lack of high school in the Ratta Banna and Karwala Villages of Haripur, the young scholars are being transported via vans from their villages to Government Girls High School and Islamic International Public School located in Bagra, Haripur, at a distance 8 km and 11 km, respectively. Parents of these girls lack financial resources to bear the transportation expenses and without MGYW support the girls had no choice but to quit education after primary school. In addition, annual MGYW grants are also being provided to needy students seeking financial assistance. This project is progressing successfully during the current 2012-13 school year. In addition, MGYW also sponsored summer schooling of all girls enrolled in the MGYW Haripur Project from highly trained and qualified teachers so that they could get a head start when they join the school in the Fall of 2012.

The second project entails annual gift pack distribution in Karachi, Sindh. An impressive MGYW-sponsored gift pack distribution ceremony was held on 18 th July where hefty gift packs were distributed among talented young girls belonging to impoverished families. This program was organized by dynamic Mrs. Fozia Khan Mazhar, Principal of Government Primary School, Federal Capital Area, Karachi, and her team, with assistance from MGYW Pakistan. Half of the girls belonged to HOPE organization’s Zia Colony School in Korangi (these young scholars are also recipients of annual MGYW grants); whereas, the other half were selected from Liaquatabad and other adjacent towns on the basis of merit and financial need. The families of these young girls barely make their living and thus cannot afford to meet school-related expenses resulting in little incentive to send their daughters to school. The annual MGYW grants and gift packs are geared to encourage these families to provide education to their young girls.

Each annual gift pack was meticulously prepared and customized to fulfill the girls’ basic needs such as school uniform, school bag, note books, stationery, toiletries, water bottle, and lunch box. All girls were required to complete annual renewal form and academic progress report for becoming eligible for gift packs. The gift pack distribution ceremony was attended by Agha Masood Hussain (journalist and TV anchor), Mazhar Butt (businessman and social activist), Sohail Hussain (Program Administrator HOPE Organization), Mrs. Aisha Noorani (Principal, HOPE School, Korangi), Shazia and Hussain Ali Khan (MGYW Pakistan), Dr. Rubina Zaman (MGYW USA Rep for Pennsylvania), and Dr. Farhana Mohamed (MGYW USA Board). The program comprised of introductions, guest speeches, inspirational poems and tableau, and distribution of gift packs.

Insha’Allah, these two innovative programs will continue and expand in future due to tireless efforts of MGYW’s dedicated team of collaborators and volunteers. For more information, please visit MGYW website ( ) and Like it on Facebook

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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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