LAHORE: The Hope Uplift Foundation arranged a fund raising walkathon and carnival on Sunday for the residents of the Defence Housing Authority.
As many as 500 people participated in the first-ever walkathon organised by the HUF, a charity working in education, hunger relief and public assistance, at Sheba Park in DHA’s Y-Block Market.
The walk, organised in collaboration with the DHA administration, started from Sheba Park. The participants turned back at the Lahore Grammar School in Phase 5 and returned to Sheba Park covering a distance of 5.5km.
“We aim to raise awareness amongst people regarding the work we do and in the process raise funds for our work,” said HUF General Director Anne-Marie St-Onge. She said the event was being held for the first time in Lahore.
St-Onge, who has been with the HUF for two and a half years, said the participants were required to ask people to make pledges for donations to the HUF welfare projects.
The participants started arriving at the venue at around 8:00am despite a dense fog.
The walk had been rescheduled to this Sunday from January 13, owing to the security concerns raised by the DHA management on account of Dr Tahirul Qadri’s long march. The participants were escorted by DHA guards. Traffic was closed on the walk route. Shuttle buses were available at each stop for those who did not wish to continue the walk.
HUF Zonal Manager Rabia Zahoor said the greatest response was from students. “We reached out largely to schools during our campaign for the event. Naturally, the number of children that showed up was larger than senior citizens,” she said.
Zahoor, a business administration student at the Lahore School of Economics, said Beaconhouse, Lahore Grammar School, Aitchison, LUMS, LSE and Defence Schools for Boys and Girls participated in the event.
Beaconhouse Defence Campus students Shahrukh Ali and Hammad Mahmood said they had learnt about social work and fund raising.
A-levels student Khizra Liaquat, said fun activities were needed to attract students to such causes.
DHA Public Relations Director Zeerik Ahmad said they had provided security for the walk.
More than 30 volunteers greeted the participants of the walk. which concluded in one and a half hours. They also handed certificates to the participants who were also awarded trophies for raising funds, finding sponsors and walking most distance. The highest fund collected by a single participant was Rs45,000 by TNS Beaconhouse student Anushka Rashid.
One of the winners at the walkathon, Ushna Malik obtained pledges from 20 sponsors.
Singer Abrarul Haq also participated. “You don’t have to be a singer or a cricketer to contribute to your society, all you need is the passion to help,” he told the participants.
Forty students of HUF charity-run schools also attended the event. The art teacher of Playgroup Section at the HUF School in Defence, Nagina Mohammad Din, said schoolchildren were excited to perform at the event. “Today it’s their carnival their time to perform and shine,” she said.
The carnival continued from 9am to 5pm. It featured stalls offering food and games. Several NGOs had set up stalls at the event.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 21st, 2013.