Islamabad: The parents of Pakistani student Sabika Sheikh, who lost her life in a deadly school shooting in Texas, US, at the age of 17, are keeping her memory alive with a foundation to empower girls through education.
Sabika Sheikh was one of the 10 children who lost their lives in May 2018 shooting at Santa Fe High School near Houston.
Two years after the Texas school shooting, the Pakistani family, based in Karachi city, started the foundation that will offer university scholarships to low-income Pakistani women.
Her parents, Abdul Aziz Sheikh and Farah Naz, hope that the nonprofit initiative, Sabika for Peace Foundation, will provide educational opportunities to students who need it most. “I know if I continue working with the foundation, she [Sabika] will always be with me,” her mother, Farah Naz, told the Houston Chronicle.
The foundation will currently provide scholarships for universities in Pakistan but will eventually expand to offer exchange opportunities for American schools to continue “connection and ties” with the United States where Sabika “spent the best days of her life”, Sania Sheikh, Sabika’s younger sister, was quoted as saying.
Sabika for Peace Foundation has partnered with notable nonprofit organisations, including the Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund and the American Council for International Education
(ACIE). ACIE, the American Institute for Foreign Study and the International Education and Resource Network will contribute a $300,000 seed grant to initiate the foundation. The organisation will be run by a board of directors comprising of representatives from the family and four independent members.
Sabika Sheikh went to Santa Fe High School in August 2017 as a youth under the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study programme that provides scholarships for secondary school students from countries with significant Muslim populations to spend one academic year in the United States. More than 1,200 Pakistani high school students have studied in the US since 2003 under the YES program funded by the US Department of State.
Sabika was just weeks away from returning home to her family in Karachi at the time of the shooting in May 2018.