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|The Kashmir School Appeal|
This is the story of a dream being made reality by the efforts of the Rotary Club of Heidelberg providing support for 788 children’s education in the earthquake affected areas of the North-Western Frontier Province, (NWFP), of Pakistan.
In September 2005, Frances and John Walton spent a week in Pakistan at the end of a holiday to the Sub-Continent. They were there as a direct result of a Group Study Exchange in 1995 between District 3270, (Pakistan) and District 9790, (Australia). The Rotary Club of Heidelberg, had hosted team members from Pakistan, and some members of the Pakistan team invited Frances and John to visit them. During this time they traveled to the foothills of beautiful Kashmir not realising how soon Frances would return.
They had been home only ten days when there was news of a massive earthquake, which ultimately made millions homeless and killed up to 100,000 people. Rotary contacts in Islamabad asked Frances to return, believing her background in nursing and psychology and her practical experience in plastic surgery and wound management would prove helpful in this desperate situation. She accepted the challenge working with the Pakistan Medical Association, initially in Shinkari and later at ‘KBDO’ Hospital Mansehra. Whilst in the area around Balakot and Muzaffarabad Frances witnessed dislocation of families, injuries, destruction of homes and infrastructure. She worked with people living in crowded tents, with no insulation from the severe weather conditions. Many children traumatized through the loss of family members, homes and communities as well as suffering severe injuries themselves.
Two months later, safely home in Australia, Frances felt great compassion for these people of the North-West Frontier Province who could not escape their extreme privations. Even the hastily erected tent schools offered little protection from the elements. For most of these children this was their first experience of any form of school. Few material aids were available and teachers were generally unqualified.
In this area of Pakistan, where literacy rates are very low, education could offer some children a pathway for the future. Most rural families do not have enough money to afford the cost of providing their children with any education at all. Our dream was to raise funds through the Rotary network to support education for “affectee” children, who had lost so much. The Rotary Club of Heidelberg took up this challenge, and with the support of our friends in the Rotary Club of Lahore Midtown, we linked with “The Citizens Foundation” (TCF), an educational foundation in Pakistan, working with the poor to provide broad based education to boys and girls from all creeds.
A total of 788 TCF students will be benefiting from the A$40,000 or PKR 2390,933 providing them with the opportunity of a year’s education each. A decision was made, that with the tightening of the Rotary Foundation’s purse strings during the world recession, we did not want to wait for a possible Matching Grant.
To continue our commitment to this cause a permanent position of International Education Coordinator has been established in District 9790, and PP Katy Richmond of the Rotary Club of Ivanhoe has agreed to take this post. The aim of this committee, under the umbrella of District 9790 International Committee, is to continue to support and coordinate this initiative with TCF and others of a similar nature into the future.
Thanks go to all those who have donated to the Kashmir School Appeal. Support came from Rotary Clubs in Australia District 9790 and 9550, Taiwan District 3480 and Pakistan District 3270 and also from many generous private donors. Hopefully the links established between Australia, Taiwan and Pakistan Rotary, during this worthwhile project will continue to bear fruit for many years to come.
If you or your Rotary Club wishes to be involved in this important ongoing educational project please contact:
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|Last modified: 30 Apr 2013 13:37|
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