“My mother works as a domestic servant,” shares Imran Shaukat, currently studying in his third year at the Institute of Business Administration (IBA). Imran lives in Orangi town, Karachi. His father is a construction worker but was forced to quit his job because of an asthma problem. Imran’s mother currently works as a house help to support the family and children’s education. “My mother isn’t educated herself but it was her dream to see her children educated,” shares Imran. “She understands that in our society only educated men and women get respect. My life is now dedicated to making her dream come true.”
“I always wanted to get educated,” shared Imran’s mother. “I wanted to become a doctor and contribute to society, but my father didn’t want his daughters to go to school. Currently, I wash dishes but I want my children to have a better future.” This is a remarkable story about the power and resolve of one woman wanting to see her children educated and the universe conspiring together to make her dream come true. “I want to do my Masters from MIT or Stanford,” says Imran, who is currently pursuing his Bachelors in Computer Science. “Then, I’d like to open my own software house or company. I’ve learned that one should never lose hope in life. One should continue working hard and believe in oneself. If you have the will power, there’s nothing you can’t do.”
Imran’s journey began at a school run by The Citizens Foundation (TCF). In the last 20 years, TCF has established over 1,000 purpose-built school units nationwide with an enrolment of 165,000 students. TCF was set up by a group of ordinary citizens just like us, but they wanted to bring about positive social change through education. And what a change they’re triggering by educating young boys and girls like Imran across Pakistan. “I passed my matric with 86 per cent marks. Later, I got a call from the TCF Alumni Development Programme (ADP) for a potential scholarship which could enable me to study at IBA. I’m now the team leader for TCF Alumni Development Programme at IBA. I believe it’s very important for us to give back to the community.”
The ADP tries to help TCF students find placements and funding for top tier universities like IBA, LUMS, NED, FAST-NU and Habib University. Here’s how their team works. First, the team collects data of TCF graduates. These graduates are then educated about the different top tier universities and their programmes. For example, the application process to a top university is in itself so complicated and the application fee so high that it becomes a barrier to the application. The ADP’s team of volunteers mentor the TCF alumni and guide them through the application process while convincing university management to drop the application fees for such underprivileged children. This is a cause all universities should support to give young men and women like Imran a chance at quality education.
While you wouldn’t be able to tell, thanks to his positivity and zest for life, Imran had to jump a lot of hurdles to get to where he is today. He worked as a welder and as a child, did a part-time job in a clinic because his mother always told her kids that they needed to acquire some skill (hunr). The more skills you have the better qualified you will be to do things, she used to tell them. This attitude towards learning came in handy when Imran joined IBA and experienced problems with English, especially compared to peers who came from ‘O’ and ‘A’ level backgrounds. “I don’t have a problem anymore,” he explains, with the humble assertiveness of a self-made man in the making. “I always focus on my work. If someone else can do something, why can’t I do it if I work hard enough? If we believe in something, there’s no reason it can’t happen.”
Extraordinary Pakistanis seeks to find and share inspirational stories about everyday Pakistani heroes (if you know someone who should be profiled, send us a tweet @Mbilallakhani). If we don’t share these stories about Pakistan, no one else will.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 30th, 2016.