MGYW’s Annual Banquet: It’s all about Women Empowerment
ByFarhana Mohamed, MBA, PhD
Pictures by Anwar Khawaja
MGYW (Pakistani American Forum - Merit Grants for Young Women) has come a long way since 2000 when it was conceived and later became an integral part of Pakistani American Forum. The vision of MGYW is to empower impoverished but meritorious young Pakistani women through education. MGYW is successfully providing educational opportunities to young women belonging to families, mostly making $2 per day, and residing in urban slums or remote rural areas. The male and female literacy gap is 18% to over 30% in different regions of Pakistan and MGYW is striving to fill this gap.
Thousands of girls have benefited from the program with some girls already graduated and gainfully employed. MGYW does not build new schools but reaches all four provinces of Pakistan by collaborating with renowned NGOs and respected local community residents. These reputable organizations have a network of over 22,000 students with a majority of female enrollment.
MGYW’s 1012 annual fundraising banquet was held at the Knott’s Berry Farm Resort Hotel in Southern California. The program was emceed by Raeesa Tarr and Yumnah Syed who are two promising young emerging leaders with their active involvement with the Zanbeel Art, 8Fourteen and Islamic Relief USA.
Well-known Qari Tariq Fattani conducted the Qur’anic recitation. His selection of Sura was brilliant and performance soulful. He also superbly delivered Qirat and Duaa during last Ramadan’s highly-rated Geo TV transmissions spearheaded by Dr. Amir Liaquat Hussain. The recitation was followed by Dr. Farhana Mohamed’s presentation highlighting MGYW’s mission, accomplishments, and new projects undertaken during 2012.
Chief Guest Consul Dr. Khalid Ejaz commended MGYW for making a difference in the lives of many young women. He specifically referred to the very low administrative expense of MGYW since it does not build schools but works efficiently with other NGOs and government schools to fulfill its mission throughout Pakistan. He added that while school buildings could be erected by the government, there exists an educational quality gap which needs to be filled by MGYW and other NGOs.
MGYW also paid “In Memoriam” tribute to late Hamid Malik, prominent community leader and philanthropist, with a plaque presented to Mrs. Javeeda Malik by Consul Ejaz. In addition, a tribute was also paid to late Begum Fakhrunnisa Khan for her successfully providing professional education to all her children despite many obstacles. She has also willed generous annual endowment to MGYW.
Guest of Honor SherAly Khwaja, a successful businessman, current elected Treasurer and Past Commissioner of the City of Montebello, furnished some insight about the role of philanthropy in Islam as emphasized by Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) with solid references. He reminded that as Pakistani Americans we owe most of our success to the USA which provided us with all the opportunities and rewarded us for our hard work. He also presented City Pins to all the Board Members.
The fundraising segment was aptly conducted by Kazim Ali, a motivational speaker, and Seemi Hasan Naqvi, Deputy District Attorney in the Office of District Attorney Orange County. Seemi Naqvi also successfully and passionately led the auction segment assisted by Abida Ahmed, Tasneem Afzal, and Sufia Altaf. The auctioned items included outfits, jewelry, and gift certificates donated by local businesses, individuals, and the MGYW Board. The musical entertainment was comprised of performances by young Amit Pujari and Tahir Iftikhar. Amit is a talented professionally trained vocalist who enthralled the audience with ghazals and oldies, whereas, Tahir entertained the crowd with popular songs until midnight.
The MGYW Board Members who put tremendous effort included Tasneem Afzal, Sufia Altaf, Iram Iqbal, Farhana Mohamed, and Zille Zaman. The Board is profoundly grateful to the event sponsors (Pakistan Link, Ryaan Travel, Rite Services, and Islamic Relief USA), generous donors and volunteers for their support. The Link readers are requested to visit MGYW website ( www.mgyw.org ) and the Facebook to know more about this organization being run on a unique and cost-effective business model.