The Foundation's work would have been impossible without UAE-based supporters, the gathering in Dubai heard Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: The Citizens Foundation (TCF), a Pakistani non-profit organisation educating the less-privileged, recently held its ‘Annual Supporters Conference and Dinner’ in Dubai to thank its well-wishers in the UAE and to update them on the Foundation’s progress.

The Conference brought together almost 600 guests from the UAE community. The attendees comprised a diverse group of individuals, including education advocates and supporters from the UAE community, and were welcomed by TCF’s Founding Directors.

Guests included Faisal Niaz Tirmizi, Ambassador of Pakistan to UAE; Hassan Afzal Khan, Consul General of Pakistan in Dubai; and members of the International Humanitarian City (IHC) in Dubai.

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Faisal Niaz Tirmizi, Ambassador of Pakistan to UAE, at the event Image Credit: Supplied

First international chapter

TCF established its first international chapter in UAE in 2004 and is registered with the IHC. In UAE, TCF has a community of supporters and donors who have built more than 80 schools and are currently supporting more than 120 TCF school units.

Pakistan is the world’s sixth largest populous country and has the second-highest number of out-of-school children in the world. Out-of-school-children in Pakistan often face deep-rooted structural inequalities that are most often linked to gender biases, poverty and lack of access to quality schools.

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How it all began

It is in response to this crisis that six Pakistanis put their own money into a pilot to build five schools in Karachi’s worst slums. Today, TCF is operating 1,833 school units across 63 districts in Pakistan where children were previously out-of-school. The Economist has called TCF “perhaps the largest network of independently run schools in the world”. The Foundation is the largest private employer of women in Pakistan with 13,000 teachers and principals. TCF has an enrolment of 280,000 deserving students.

Ahsan M. Saleem, Founding Director and Chairman of the Board, TCF, said: “Through its programmes, TCF has deep roots in vulnerable communities across Pakistan. For 27 years, we have been working to strengthen these communities and bring positive change through education. We remain committed to serving them, especially during times of crisis, when they need us the most. This work would not have been possible without TCF’s UAE-based supporters, who have wholeheartedly embraced the cause of education in Pakistan and stand with us as we continue to strengthen communities through education.”

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Ahsan M. Saleem, Founding Director and Chairman of the Board, TCF, thanked the supporters Image Credit: Supplied

Inspirational story

TCF Alumna, Hina Shoukat attended the conference and shared her story of struggles and triumph and how education helped her find hope and purpose not only in her life, but also brought about a positive change in her community.

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Hina Shoukat shared her story with the guests Image Credit: Supplied

Hina graduated from Institute of Business Management in Karachi and is the first girl in her family to pursue tertiary education. Her father is a laundryman by profession. Growing up, Hina didn’t receive much support from her family and had several restrictions but with her mother’s support, she was able to stay determined towards her goal. Today, Hina’s father has proudly framed her degree on their wall, and supports the education of his younger daughters.

“My educational journey was full of struggles, however, I am glad to have opened a pathway not only for my sisters, but also served as an inspiration for other girls in my community,” said Hina.