Realizing the underlying situation of the educational institutes in the country along with the lack of opportunities for students, CARE foundation took the responsibility of bringing a change.
Relying on our own actions, we’ve impacted lives of thousands of students and raised the standards of education nationwide, setting children up for growth.
Hina Fatima, a student of the CARE Adopted CDG Girls High School Islampura, Shahdara, Lahore is a role model for all those willing to succeed regardless of facing tough circumstances.
Her father, Muhammad Sadique took it upon himself to not let his family feel that they were deficient in anything. It’s the sort of commitment that has been engrained in Hina as well.
While at CARE, Hina always stood out as a bright & confident child. Her biggest achievement was when she was able to secure 1082/1100 (98%) marks, the highest marks amongst all CARE students appearing in their Matriculation exams in 2019. She soon got shortlisted for a CARE Scholarship and got enrolled in the FSc (Pre-Engineering) batch at the Kinnaird College for Women University in Lahore.
Hina, being as optimistic as she is, envisions a far brighter future for her community and her country at large. She wishes to pursue a career as a CSS officer and work for the up-gradation of the moral and social values of the community. Students like her are the essence and the result of CARE’s hard work and dedication over the years.
Fariha Haq, a student of CARE Adopted Government Pak Standard Girls High School, Shadbagh, Lahore has secured 3rd position in BISE Lahore Annual Matriculation Board Exams (Humanities Group) with 1041 marks.
Amna Saleem is one of the most passionate CARE graduates, now studying Software Engineering from University of Electrical Engineering Taxila with the help of Care Scholarship.
Amber is currently enrolled in the acclaimed Punjab College for Women. She secured fourth position in the Lahore Board Exams of 2012 upon graduating from the CARE adopted Government G.H.S, Wassanpura School. She has now garnered another milestone, acquiring the widely coveted First Position in her Second Year of Studies.
Kudos to CARE alumnus Syed Sajjad Hussein Shah for landing third position in Computer Studies in his intermediate examinations at the Lahore Board. He is now pursuing a degree at the Punjab University of Information Technology and plans to be a software engineer in the future.
Dr. Farah Azam, a CARE Alumna, hoping to open up her own hospital in Shahdara, Lahore. On a balmy weekday morning, the well-known Sir Ganga Ram Hospital is a hubbub of activity. Past frantic families, overcrowded waiting areas, the lazy hum of ceiling fans, a stretcher being rolled out (with a middle-aged woman with her arms bandaged up) and its wheels barely missing a dead lizard – its shimmering belly exposed to the sun (like a miniature sacrifice), young women doctors in their stark white overcoats spilling out of every hospital entrance – some briskly walking to the cafeteria for a chilled drink and a break to cool their heels, while others walk to and from the adjoining Fatima Jinnah Medical University to plop down in a shaded spot in the campus’s immaculately maintained garden. Here, in this surreal pre-partition portal, in the heart of Lahore, life and death are conjoined twins; neither can exist without the other.
At first glance, 24-year-old Farah Azam comes across as reserved and shy. Petite, with kind eyes and a discreet smile, the young doctor tells me that she’s at the tail-end of her house job at the hospital. But she hasn’t made a decision about her specialisation yet, she reveals, as we walk past the marble stairs of the campus entrance and a rather magical strip of quaint, white-washed wooden windows, partially covered by a cascade of orange bougainvillaea.
Farah Azam is the eldest of five siblings. The eldest of five siblings, Azam grew up in Shahdara, the historic town that once stood as Lahore’s entrance gate during the Mughal era in the 15th century.
Having completed her schooling at a CARE Foundation-adopted school in the area, Azam knew she wanted to make a career in the medical field. “I used to think; ‘agar medical nahin, toh phir kuch nahin!’ I just knew that I wanted to be a doctor for the rest of my life,” she says, “There are no doctors in my family, and for some reason, it used to give me a bit of an inferiority complex. That’s when I decided I had to get out of the career comfort zone that I saw so many of my family members lodged in.”
After acing her matric exams, Azam mentions that she was lucky enough to be able to receive full scholarships from CARE to complete an FSc degree at Lahore College and later, enrol into a 5-year MBBS program at Fatima Jinnah Medical University. However, while she excelled in the classroom, Azam’s personal life took a turn for the worse during grad school when her father married his second wife and moved out of the house for over a year.
Those were dark days, full of trepidation, Azam recalls. Money was scarce and she would spend nights weeping into her pillow, wondering how her family would survive. “I kept thinking; if I give up now, what would become of my mother and my younger siblings? I had to be strong for them. I wouldn’t allow my mother to work and told her she could depend on her children.”
It was then that Azam began teaching at a nearby academy after university. From waking up at the crack of dawn, attending her classes and then taking a rickshaw straight to the institution, Azam’s days would end past 9 pm, on a daily basis. This was in 2011, and now, standing as the only doctor in her family and her town, Azam says that she’s grateful for what she had to endure. Why? Because it was a wonderful, albeit difficult teacher. “I was never emotionally strong; I’d get sensitive and upset on the smallest of things. I’m not like that anymore; I feel I can take on any challenge now.”
Having received her degree last month, Azam made sure both her parents were in attendance. She had forgiven her father because after all was said and done, she still harboured a great deal of love in her heart for him.
Recalling the university’s graduation ceremony, Azam laughs when she mentions how much her mother cried with joy. “I was like, ‘Amma, please stop, people are looking!’ But deep down, I was elated that I had not only achieved my dream but also that I’d made my mother proud.”
Speaking about her experiences during her house job at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, Azam states that it has been an emotional rollercoaster witnessing life and death in such close proximity. From being a part of a gut-wrenching autopsy of a suicide case involving two teenage girls, witnessing the death of a 21-year-old boy – whose kidneys failed within days of his hospital admission – to looking into the eyes of cherub-like newborns, she has had to accept the unpredictability of life up close and personal.
“It’s two different extremes; there’s so much tragedy, yet so much beauty,” Azam says, “As doctors, we have to learn how to handle every kind of case, how to counsel grieving families and most of all, how to control our own emotions. People have this notion that ‘doctors bohat zaalim hain,’ but we can’t let our feelings get the better of us, if we did, how would we be able to do our jobs?”
Hoping to open up her own clinic (or hospital) in Shahdara, where the medical facilities are grossly lacking, reveals Azam, the road ahead couldn’t be more promising for the young doctor.
“When my family and I were going through a rough patch, I’d look at other families and it would sting…they’d look so normal,” she says, “But over time, I’ve realized that one should never get wrapped up in self-pity. Always look at what you have, the opportunities you were given and what God has blessed you with.”
Tanveer Ahmed, a former CARE student from City District Government Boys High School in Township, Lahore, is currently an English Lecturer at the Punjab Group of Colleges.
Mubashir Rashid is the son of a proud Public Call Officer (PCO) who had envisioned all the success in the world for his child. However, while Mubashir was still very young some uncalled-for circumstances engulfed their family.
Managing the finances of the entire household and ensuring quality education at this point for his son proved to be extremely difficult for Mubashir’s father to manage and was forced to get his son admitted in a government school. An extremely hard decision as no parent wants their child to waste any time at a run-down government school.
They soon got to know about CARE’s incentive of taking over Government schools and revamping them. Mubashir got enrolled in the CARE Adopted City District Government Islah-e-Moashra Boys High School with a manageable fee to not burden his father.
“The regular Government school structure doesn’t really work well, so when CARE adopted the CDG Islah-e-Moashra school the entire setup was forced to straighten up. This was a blessing, the teachers started to show up on time along with the reduction of pathetic practices usually equated with the Government school setup. The CARE teachers proved to be thorough professionals.”
Salman attended the CARE Access to English programme at Government Islamia High School Sheranwala Gate, Lahore. He then completed his Bachelor’s with first class honours from Oxford Brookes University, United Kingdom. After college, Salman successfully completed his ACCA qualification and joined a UK based accountancy outsourcing firm called Azure Global. He then secured a job with the world’s second largest shipping company and is currently serving as an Account Executive in the company’s Somalia-based office.
Fatima, graduated from CARE Adoped CDG Girls High School, Singhpura. She joined Nespak in 2013, where she worked as a Junior Expert in the Geotechnical Engineering Division. She is currently working as a lecturer at UET.