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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Helping the helpless

How often have we walked or driven by the slums near our neighbourhoods and turned our heads away, pretending that we can’t see the suffering of the dwellers? The answer would be: countless. Tooba Hassan is an Active Citizen who chose not to ignore the miserable conditions of slums. She launched ‘Crystal Future’, a Social Action Project seeking to bring about a positive change in the lives of the less fortunate.

Having identified a slum area by the name of ‘Baykah Saeeda’ in F-11, Tooba decided to take its barely functioning school under her wing. The school was in a dilapidated condition with one teacher to cater to 50 students, no roof and an obsolete syllabus. Tooba introduced printed material and activities using Oxford workbooks to make learning a more interesting experience for the children. She also managed to raise funds from friends and relatives for a temporary roof. Her prime focus, however, was developing the children’s soft skills and moral values – an area of personal development most people ignore. Tooba worked to enhance the students’ reading and writing skills, build their confidence, teach them about hygiene and cleanliness and create awareness about social issues such as domestic violence.

When asked why she volunteered spending time in the slum school, Tooba said: “We wanted to help the slum kids become good citizens. If they acquire education, it’ll be easier for them to earn a respectable living”.

Tooba’s biggest challenge has been getting individuals and organizations on board to support her cause. Many NGOs are not interested in helping out unless their work is publicized, a sad reality Tooba discovered when she contacted some organizations to provide counselling for victims of sexual abuse.

Her motivation to keep going comes from the change she sees in the area she has adopted. The children, who once had an air of dejection surrounding them, are now active and engaged members of the community. For Tooba, there can be no better reward.

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