The Citizens Foundation Sacramento Chapter Launched
ByRas H. Siddiqui
The Citizens Foundation-USA ( https://www.tcfusa.org/ ) is one of the three groupings of an international effort (along with those in Canada and the United Kingdom) who are serious in helping to address one of the most pressing challenges facing Pakistan today - children who are not in school. In support of The Citizens Foundation-Pakistan (which carries out this worthy mission) there are already a number of Chapters in the USA actively engaged in spreading awareness and in fundraising activities in major cities. The closest one to Sacramento, California is the very active decade-old Silicon Valley Chapter and it is with their introduction and an initiative shown by two area Pakistani community luminaries - Asghar Aboobaker and Javed Iqbal - that an expansion into California’s Capital City is now becoming a reality.
On Saturday, October 3, 2015 a small lunch gathering was held in nearby Roseville in Placer County at the Best Western Hotel attended by a select 35 people who have shown an interest in pursuing The Citizens Foundation (TCF) mission in this geographic area. Pakistanis have been in the Sacramento region since Partition (and before) and the area can be considered as having one of the oldest communities of Pakistani origin in the United States. The community has become really active of late via the Pakistani American Association of Sacramento (PAAS), the Pak American Culture and Arts Council (PACAC) and last but not least the Pakistani American Sports and Culture Organization (PASCO). And now TCF is set to become a welcome addition here.
The lunch gathering in Roseville started with words of welcome by Javed Iqbal who explained why he had decided to support TCF and has become one of the main organizers for Sacramento after serving and supporting various other organizations in the Sacramento area for many years. Javed was followed by Laiq Chughtai from the Silicon Valley Chapter who provided details of the work that TCF has been doing in Pakistan. Laiq explained that there is an education emergency in Pakistan where 1 in 4 children in rural areas do not attend school, half the government primary schools lack toilets and 40% have no drinking water. He also said that 50% more girls are out of school than boys. A clip from a video aired on American television focusing on TCF titled “An Alternative Public School System” was also shown. But most impressive of all was the scale reported of work that TCF is doing. With over 1000 schools and over 165,000 students already enrolled and close to 9000 trained teachers in 109 towns and cities in Pakistan, this is certainly a huge operation which aims to educate 1.5 million kids in the near future with help from communities like ours. Also explained was why TCF has been successful in reaching out to children in Pakistan, some in remote areas.
Amjad Noorani , also from the TCF Silicon Valley Chapter, spoke next and elaborated on four recent additional initiatives taken by TCF in Pakistan including Alumni Development, Learning Management, Quality Improvement and Partnerships with Provincial Governments and others. And Amjad was followed by Asad Mohiuddin, also from the Silicon Valley TCF Chapter, who presented a holistic view of the organization and his own reflections on its work. And to be more specific Asghar Aboobaker closed the afternoon formalities with his impressions of the remarkable work that The Citizens Foundation is doing on the ground in Pakistan to educate children impacted by poverty or other pressing priorities.
To conclude, this report has been kept purposely short as we will wait for the first TCF Sacramento Chapter event in the near future to further expand on the work of this unique organization. In the meantime readers are invited to visit the TCF-Pakistan website at http://www.tcf.org.pk/ to see if they would like to assist or participate in its mission. And to add some wisdom here, as a wise Chinese philosopher by the name of Confucius once reportedly observed, “If your plan is for one year, plant rice; If your plan is for ten years, plant a tree; If your plan is for one hundred years, educate children.”