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Air Pollution in Nigeria
Nigeria has the largest number of deaths due to air pollution in Africa, while the country ranks fourth for air pollution across the globe. Statistics indicate that in 2016, 150 fatalities occurred per 100,000 people as a result of this environmental issue. The State of the Global Air Report that the Health Effects Institute (HEI) published determined that Nigeria’s air quality is amidst the most lethal worldwide. Atmospheric threats such as generator fumes, automobile emissions and crop burning cause air pollution.

In 2016, The HEI indicated that industrialized countries like Russia and Germany have reported lower death rates than Nigeria with 62 and 22 per 100,000 people. Meanwhile, developing countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan and India have reported much higher rates with 406, 207 and 195 deaths per 100,000 people.

Causes of Air Pollution in Nigeria

Air pollution emits through generator fumes which produce the deadly gas carbon monoxide. Automobiles with older engines are also likely to emit unhealthy fumes into the atmosphere. In households, kerosene stoves produce flames that contribute to the poor air ventilation. The nation creates over 3 million tons of waste yearly and most Nigerians burn their waste in their neighborhoods rather than discarding it, contributing more pollution to the atmosphere. Another aspect that contributes to the air pollution crisis in Nigeria is the use of firewood and coal to cook.

Additionally, indoor air pollution in Nigeria is also a big issue, as the amount of fine particulate matter levels in many households surpass air quality guidelines by 20 times. In 2012, according to the WHO, Lagos, Nigeria experienced nearly 7 million deaths caused by indoor and outdoor air contamination.

Air contamination across the African continent kills over 700,000 people annually; more people die from air pollution than unsanitary hygiene practices and undernourishment. Casualties as a result of the air pollution crisis in Nigeria has increased by nearly 40 percent in the last 30 years. Nigeria has some of the highest rates of unhealthy air quality across the African continent. Overall, Nigerian cities contain the most unhealthy air quality with 10 urban areas being classified on a list of 30 cities in Africa with the most unhealthy air quality.

The Effects of Air Pollution in Nigeria

While developed countries have effective solutions in place to handle air pollution, underdeveloped countries are struggling to handle this environmental issue. Some countries have begun taking appropriate measures to handle it, though. As a result, the number of people exposed to air pollution has decreased from 3.5 billion in 1990 to 2.4 billion in 2016.

The report also indicated that 95 percent of the globe’s citizens are intaking polluted air. In 2016, extended subjection to air pollution contributed to roughly 6 million deaths, all resulting from diseases such as strokes, lung disease, lung cancer, bronchitis, asthma and heart attacks. Air pollution is one of the top leading causes of fatalities, particularly in underdeveloped countries, even after smoking, increased blood pressure and unhealthy diets. Exposure to air pollution also increases the risk of developing cancer.

Solutions to the Air Pollution Crisis

In order to effectively handle the air pollution crisis in Nigeria, it is important for the country to provide regular inspections of automobiles to ensure that older cars are not releasing harmful chemicals into the atmosphere. It is also integral that Nigeria removes cars from the road that are toxic to the environment.

The implementation of efficient electric energy will help decrease the need for generators, which produces unhealthy air pollution in households and work environments. However, Nigeria does have access to sustainable energy resources that are capable of providing power to its citizens. These methods are safer for the environment and the usage of them decreases the use of gasoline-powered generators, thus decreasing pollution.

Nigerians can reduce air pollution in the household by substituting fuelwood for biogas, which is a form of biofuel that is instinctively manufactured from the decay of natural waste. Biogas will provide sustainable options for preparing food and heating the household while eliminating air pollution both inside the household and the outside environment.

In terms of trash disposal, recycling methods will be helpful to make certain that people are not burning waste. Additionally, daily waste removal from households will also help to properly dispose of trash, which reduces the fragmentation of waste and prevents odors that contribute to air pollution.

Additionally, factories that are within metropolitan areas follow guidelines regarding sustainable practices in order to decrease air pollution in Nigeria. The National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) monitors operations to ensure that these work environments are abiding by the pollution proclamations.

In conclusion, the execution of environmentally friendly practices in Nigeria will help decrease the air pollution crisis in Nigeria that is present in households, businesses and the outside environment. In order for the elimination of air pollution to be effective, the country must pursue the regulations for all Nigerians.

Additionally, it is necessary to inform communities regarding the sources and consequences of air pollution in order for them to effectively take action in decreasing the issue. Furthermore, those that become more knowledgeable of the issue are then able to educate others and persuade the Nigerian government to continue to enforce legislation against air pollution.

Diana Dopheide
Photo: Wikipedia

ADB Helps Pakistan to Fight Poverty

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) helps Pakistan to fight poverty by pledging  $10 billion to Pakistan over the next 5 years for the purpose of infrastructure development, with the goal of improving important economic sectors that could revitalize regional trade. Two central areas of investment for the ADB will be water resource development and transportation infrastructure. Transportation infrastructure is an especially important focus area, as it undergirds the possibility of developing trade in other sectors of Pakistan’s economy. Water resource development will be crucial in continuing to sustain the agriculture sector and in ensuring that citizens have access to water. Here are some ways ADB helps Pakistan to fight poverty by addressing some major issues.

Trade and Transportation

While trade and poverty may appear to be separate, the economic growth prospects offered by expanding trade programs often spill over to effect poverty reduction. The positive gains in GDP growth result in increased capital coming into a country, which creates more opportunities for employment and access to markets. Since 2001, consistent yearly GDP growth in Pakistan, ranging from 1.7 percent to 7.5 percent has come alongside a 24.7 percent reduction in the number of Pakistanis living in extreme (less than $1.90 a day) poverty.

However, the poor transit system could have negative effects on the future of economic growth in Pakistan. Most of the nation’s railway system is over 100 years old and was built during the British colonial period. This has severely hampered the possibility of ramping up trade and industrial production, as only 4 percent of commerce can be shipped via rail. This has had a while GDP growth has been consistent, the share of growth caused by trade has declined, as the service industry, at 58.6 percent of GDP and agriculture sector at 24 percent both outpace the contributions of industrial production, which has declined from 22 percent of GDP to 19.3 percent. Moreover, the ADB estimates that 2 percent of GDP is lost annually due to poor transportation infrastructure.

In response to this, the ADB has announced plans to invest in providing more locomotives, increasing the overall prospects for shipping capabilities by rail, and has also invested in updating railway lines, as well as improving north-south highways for travel via motor vehicles.

Water Resource Development

Water resource development is another way ADB helps Pakistan fight poverty. This is not to suggest that agriculture is unimportant, as in some cases, agricultural development is integral to the maintenance of local economic growth, offering a means of mitigating the worst impacts of poverty. This is especially true of Balochistan, a province that faces severe water scarcity, impacting both the living standards of the population and the local economy. Agricultural production requires massive levels of water to operate successfully, and with 60 percent of the population employed in agriculture, the impact of water scarcity on poverty is compounded by pressing economic concerns.

As a result of water scarcity in Quetta, the provincial headquarters of Balochistan, many tube-wells were installed in order to redirect water from rural areas to provide water to the urban areas. This program has produced a massive strain on the population of Balochistan, eliminating access for water for both drinking and for use in agricultural production, with poor water resource management producing a scenario in which one portion of the population is only able to access the water by depriving another.

However, the ADB is seeking to combat this water scarcity by protecting watersheds and building 276 kilometers of new irrigation channels, to support agricultural production. Watersheds will prevent soil erosion, and increase water storage capabilities in the region, while irrigation channels will assist in combating the scarcity brought on by tube-wells. Beyond its use for irrigation, these programs will also be important for developing methods of helping increase access to water in the region, which some estimate could have a profound impact on increasing women’s access to water.

Conclusion

Water scarcity and poor transportation infrastructure have hindered effective economic development in Pakistan, limiting the prospects for sustainable economic growth and poverty reduction. The influx of capital offered by expanding networks for regional trade promises to offer new avenues for employment and sustainable income for Pakistanis living in poverty. Water resource management will provide new avenues for managing agricultural development, ensuring stable irrigation routes and providing overall water security.

Alexander Sherman
Photo: Flickr

 Abandoned Infants in PakistanAt just over a month old, Fatima was given away on live television. Fatima is just one of many children orphaned in Pakistan after being abandoned in trashcans and dirty alleyways. Placed in piles of rubbish, these infants are dying by the hundreds every year. On his show, “Amaan Ramzan,” Dr. Aamir Liaquat Hussain famously gives away cars and other luxury items to families in need. However, the show made world news after giving Fatima and another baby girl to a family who are unable to have children. As he explains, “These children are not a part of garbage, are not a part of trash, so we took these children from the garbage, from the trash and delivered them to the needy people, the needy parents.” Fatima’s new mother, Tanzeem Ud Din, said that she hopes the show will help encourage others to adopt children in need.

While the cause of the trend to abandon children remains unknown, many have their theories. One father who adopted two of these afflicted children and wishes to remain unnamed said, “it could be people not wanting children, women on their own or a couple that did not go through with an abortion.” He says religious belief plays a great roll in this. Many perish in the litter before they can be rescued. The lucky ones make it to orphanages dedicated to helping abandoned children. The father described his visit to the orphanage he adopted from sites of children with fear on their faces, crying because they had been dropped off two days ago when their mother died and their father left to remarry. Many of the children here live without a birth certificate or any paperwork for identification.

While the situation is horrific, many are working on solutions that will help save these children’s lives.

  1. Improvements to legislation: According to Director of the Imkaan Welfare Organization, Tahera Hasan, “Solutions don’t lie with philanthropic institutions and they never will. We are literally a drop in the ocean as far as the larger landscape is concerned.” In 2016, the Upper House of Parliament passed its first-ever bill to help abandoned children. Un-attended Orphans Rehabilitation and Welfare Act was written to protect the rights of orphaned children and ensure housing, education and healthcare.
  2. Decreasing poverty rates throughout Pakistan: According to the Economic Survey of Pakistan 2015–2016, 39 percent of the population lives in poverty. In contrast, the country has a total fertility rate of 2.55, according to the CIA Factbook, putting it at number 76 for world fertility rates. As a comparison, the United States is 142 on this list. Ahsan Iqbal, Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms says poverty reduction is one of the main objectives of Pakistan’s Vision 2025.
  3. Improving adoption services: According to Hasan, “There is no formal structure for adoption in place here, it is not recognized by the state.” Hansan is dedicated to the support of families adopting in Pakistan with the Imkaan Welfare Organization. Adoption remains mainly unregulated in Pakistan, with no paperwork for these children.

Social worker Ramzan Chippa said, “Parents who are adopting babies want healthy babies.” However, many orphaned children are described as severely mentally ill, one father even noticing a boy tied up in his orphanage to prevent him from taking bites out of his own arm. As a result, organizations such as Imkaan Welfare Organization are necessary to help these children become adoptable and find homes to be placed in.

The unnamed adoptive father referred to the child crisis in Pakistan as “unfinished business.” For countless children abandoned in dumpsters and litter, that is what their life is. Until Pakistan can adequately care for the thousands of unwanted children born every year, their existence will seem unfinished as they are homeless, purposeless and without a family.

Maura Byrne
Photo: Flickr

India’s fight against Polio
Polio, or poliomyelitis, is an infectious disease spread through poliovirus. Since the early twentieth century, polio has been widespread in many countries, causing paralysis in thousands of children every year. With the help of various nonprofit organizations and the Global Polio Eradication initiative, the disease is now narrowed down to a handful of nations.

In 2014, India was certified as a polio-free country, leaving Pakistan, Nigeria and Afghanistan on the list for polio eradication programs. India’s fight against polio is a remarkable achievement because of the various challenges the country faced. Nicole Deutsch, the head of polio operations for UNICEF in India, called it a “monumental milestone.”

Polio: Cause and Prevention

Poliovirus is highly contagious, infecting only humans and residing in the throat and intestine of the infected person. It spreads through feces and can contaminate food and water in unsanitary conditions.

The virus affects the brain and spinal cord of the infected person, causing paralysis which cannot be cured. Immunization through inactivated poliovirus vaccine and oral poliovirus vaccine are the only possible methods to fight against the virus. In the case of India, it was the second option which was administered.

India’s Fight Against Polio: the Challenges Faced

India’s fight against polio faced unique challenges, such as its huge population density and an increased birth rate. The number of people living in impoverished conditions with poor sanitation is huge, making them vulnerable to the polio disease.

Lack of education and prejudice among certain sects of the population also hindered the immunization process. Other challenges faced were the unstable healthcare system, which does not support people from all levels of society, and the geographically-dispersed inaccessible terrain, which made the immunization process difficult.

Overcoming these Challenges

Overcoming the challenges of polio eradication was possible due to the combined help provided by UNICEF, WHO, Rotary Club, the Indian government and millions of frontline workers. They took micro-planning strategies to address the challenges faced by the socially, economically, culturally and linguistically diverse country that is India.

India began its oral polio vaccine program in 1978 but it did not gain momentum until 1994, when the local government of New Delhi successfully conducted a mass immunization program for children in the region. From the year 1995, the government of India began organizing National Immunization Day, and in 1997, the first National Polio Surveillance Project was established.

Other initiatives taken include:

  • Involving almost 7,000 trained community mobilizers who went door-to-door, educating people in highly resistant regions.
  • Engaging 2.3 million vaccine administrators who immunized almost 172 million children.
  • The government running advertisements on print media, television and radio.
  • Enlisting famous Bollywood and sports celebrities to create awareness among common people.
  • Involving religious and community leaders in encouraging parents to vaccinate their children.

Inspiration for Other Countries

In 2009, almost 741 polio cases were reported in India, which dropped down to 42 in 2010, until the last case was reported in 2011 in the eastern state of West Bengal. This unprecedented success is an inspiration for countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria, where the disease is still looming at large.

India’s fight against polio has set an example in the world that the country can be proud of, but the fight is not over yet. Although India has been declared polio-free by the WHO, it is of the utmost importance that the nation continue to assist other nations still facing the polio epidemic.

– Mahua Mitra

Photo: Flickr

KarachiPakistan is currently undergoing many development projects in order to improve the safety and general quality of life for its people. Here are five development projects in Pakistan that are currently under way.

The Strategic Strengthening of Flood Warning and Management Capacity of Pakistan

In 2010, around 2 million homes were damaged and 20,000 lives were lost due to flooding caused by heavy monsoon rains. There was no system set in place to warn individuals of the impending flooding and no recovery programs to assess the damages. The Strategic Strengthening of Flood Warning and Management Capacity of Pakistan project, developed by the United Nations Educational, Science and Cultural Organization began in 2011. $2.5 million in aid was provided in order to upgrade flood warning systems, asses damages caused by flooding, and update flood hazard maps in order to help with recovery efforts as well as prevent future catastrophes.

Sindh Resilience Project

Another one of the development projects in Pakistan which focused on disaster management is the Sindh Resilience Project. The main goals of this project are to mainstream disaster risk reduction in development budgeting, support restoration and improvement of high-risk sites, and construct rainwater dams in drought regions. Starting in 2016, the Pakistan government allocated $120 million for this project.

Karachi Neighborhood Improvement Project

Many Pakistani people live in neighborhoods that are not easy for pedestrians to navigate and do not have safe transportation. The objective of the Karachi Neighborhood Improvement Project is to create usability of public spaces, increase mobility, improve traffic safety, and provide better city management. Funded by the International Development Association, this project will cost around $98 million.

The Polio Eradication Project

Pakistan is one of the only polio endemic countries in the world, along with Afghanistan and Nigeria. Due to an increasing trend of polio cases in Pakistan, the government announced the National Emergency Action Plan for Polio Eradication. In order to support these efforts in collaboration with the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, the Polio Eradication Project allocated $43 million to provide polio vaccines and to implement campaigns focusing on bringing light to the polio endemic. 

Ranolia Hydropower Project

Imported oil is Pakistan’s main source of power. The high price of oil is causing a strain on the country and causing power outages. The Ranolia Hydropower Project was started in order to harness clean energy and create jobs. The Renewable Energy Development Sector Investment Program, a $510 million program, is funding the construction of a hydropower plant fueled by the Indus river, which will generate three times the electrical capacity of Pakistan’s current national demand.

These five development projects in Pakistan are all working to make Pakistan a better place to live thanks to the support and cooperation of generous organizations committed to public health and safety in Pakistan.

– Jenae Atwell

Photo: Flickr

Water in PakistanIn Pakistan, water contamination is a serious issue – one so substantial that in August of 2017, up to 60 million people were found to be at risk of having arsenic in their water supplies. Further, the level of arsenic allowed in Pakistan’s water sources is five times higher than the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) guidelines for arsenic concentration in drinking water, with Pakistan allowing 50 micrograms per liter and the WHO allowing only 10.

This specific issue of arsenic contamination points to a broader theme of water contamination on the whole. Water supply lines are often located directly adjacent to uncovered sewage lines, causing water contamination to be so prevalent that 40 percent of all ailments in Pakistan are the result of water-borne illnesses. Further, access to clean water in Pakistan is not recognized as a national right, but is seen as a responsibility which local governments are meant to take on. This means that such access fluctuates depending on the area, although infrastructural support for a clean water system is, on the whole, dismal.

The scarcity of clean water in Pakistan has allowed extremist groups to use water as a focal point of their recruitment process. Lakshar-e-Taiba, an extremist group that perpetrated the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks in which 172 people were killed, has accused India of committing “water terrorism,” citing such as motivation for terrorist actions in India. By exploiting the issue of water – an issue which every Pakistani citizen is forced to deal with in order to survive – extremist organizations are able to reach larger swathes of the “common man” and augment grassroots support. Thus, the issue of water in Pakistan goes beyond simple health problems and infiltrates international security issues as well.

The wide berth of the problem has initiated an increase in the bottled water industry, but the reality is that such is still financially inaccessible to the majority of low-income individuals, forcing low-income communities to rely on easily-contaminated groundwater. In order to address this, an organization called Pharmagen has entered the scene. Pharmagen ensures its water is affordable for low-income customers, requiring only two rupees per liter. It operates through a chain of open water shops that extracts groundwater and purifies it to meet WHO standards before distributing it the impoverished communities it serves. Currently, the organization provides more than 100,000 liters of potable water per day in Lahore alone, and seeks to expand to include 32 additional open water shops, while also adding one bottled water facility.

Yet, it is important to note that 21.6 million people in Pakistan still have no access to clean water, and this is a hotbed for extremist activities. The work of organizations such as Pharmagen is both admirable and necessary, but it is also necessary that the international community step up on the whole – the issue of water in Pakistan ultimately goes beyond Pakistan-specific problems, due to its relationship with international extremist organizations. In a world teeming with terrorist activities, it would appear that mitigating grassroots extremist movements by improving access to clean water should have a greater presence on the world stage.

Kailee Nardi

Photo: Google

Virtual Reality Field Trips to Pakistan
Schools from around the world are giving their students the opportunity to take virtual reality field trips to Pakistan.

Two Austin-based companies, PenPal Schools and Chocolate Milk & Donuts, partnered together to create global interactions through virtual reality. PenPal Schools connects over 100,000 students in 170 countries. Its Pakistan virtual field trip program has connected 2,000 students from 17 different countries.

PenPal School organized participating students into small groups, often made of one Pakistani student and three students from different countries. Through virtual reality, Pakistani students acted as local guides to the other students. The groups then worked on assignments and projects that showcased what they learned about the country.

The virtual reality field trips to Pakistan mainly take place in the city of Lahore. Using a virtual reality headset and  videos with 360-degree views, students learn about the history and culture of Pakistan. Pakistani history, sports, education and rising artists are some of areas students get to explore.

The virtual reality field trips to Pakistan aim to provide connections with Pakistani people that were not available before. They are intended to give children from around the world the opportunity to gain a clearer understanding of the country and its people.

The program hopes these connections will dispel misconceptions about the people of Pakistan, especially following the 2017 U.S. travel ban of citizens from some Muslim countries. “It’s more important than ever to build understanding and eliminate fear,” says Founder of PenPal Schools, Joe Troyen.

The field trips illustrate a perspective of Pakistan that is not often shown. Pakistan is routinely portrayed in the media as dangerous and unstable. PenPal Schools personalizes Pakistan, giving voice to its citizens and showing the country’s beauty.

Following the success of the virtual reality field trips to Pakistan, PenPal Schools is hoping to develop other virtual reality field trips. The company want to create even more opportunities for students to experience meaningful connections with people from all corners of the global community.

Cortney Rowe

Photo: Flickr

Water Quality in Pakistan
Recent research published in the journal Science Advances has serious implications for up to 60 million Pakistanis—groundwater in the Indus Valley has been found to contain arsenic that likely exceeds a level safe for human consumption. The poor water quality in Pakistan puts many at risk of arsenic poisoning.

The published research comes from the World Health Organization (WHO), which took 1,200 groundwater samples throughout the Indus Plain. Scientists then used this data to create a “hazard map” to determine how many people would be affected by this contamination.

What they found was that 50 million—maybe even 60 million—people would be affected by contaminated groundwater, a number far greater than previously calculated. This estimate was given considering that 60 to 70 percent of the population in Pakistan relies on groundwater.

While the WHO has established that 10 micrograms of arsenic per liter of water is an acceptable concentration, the Pakistani government has always permitted a higher concentration of 50 micrograms per liter.

Although arsenic is naturally present in the ground, researchers suggest that human activities may have exacerbated the amount present in the groundwater in the Indus Plain. Lubna Bukhari, the head of Pakistan’s Council for Research in Water Resources, notes that, due to a lack of regulation, humans have exploited the groundwater, leading to an increase in arsenic.

There are no immediate effects of arsenic poisoning; however, the long-term health effects are severe. Long-term exposure to arsenic-laced water can cause skin lesions, damage to organs and even heart disease and cancer.

A statement by the WHO pressed the need to test “all drinking water wells in the Indus Plain.” With roughly a quarter of the population at risk for arsenic poisoning, the need to address water quality in Pakistan is urgent. Researchers also suggested health intervention programs for those impacted by the contamination.

For those that rely on groundwater for drinking, cooking and farming, the discovery of the contamination could severely impact their livelihoods. The Pakistani government must work to ensure that those impacted by the contamination—no small figure—are offered consumption-worthy alternatives to arsenic-tainted water.

Jennifer Faulkner

Photo: Flickr

Girls' Education in PakistanMalala Yousafzai is the 19-year-old author of Malala’s Magic Pencil, a children’s book she wrote to encourage girls’ education in Pakistan. She has inspired millions around the world with this creative campaign. In 2012, Malala was shot by by members of the Taliban who were against her advocacy while she was on her way to school, but this act of terrorism did not stop her. She continued her advocacy work and published the book this year.

Malala’s Magic Pencil is about a young girl, Malala, who wants to use her magic pencil to fix problems and make everyone in her family happy. As she got older, she saw a world that needed more important things to be fixed. She realized that even if she never found a magic pencil, she could still work every day to make her wishes of fixing those problems come true. This inspiring illustration encouraged girls in Pakistan and around the world to strive for better lives through education.

Over a hundred thousand people joined Malala’s fight to make sure every girl has a school to go to with her foundation #YesAllGirls. As the refugee crisis grows, more girls are denied their right to education, but supporters of Malala’s campaign have promised 12 years of school to all girls. With the help of donations, Malala will not stop until all girls are in school.

With Malala’s determination, she provides hope for girls’ education in Pakistan and around the world. “We should all speak for girls’ education, for both girls’ and boys’ education. Boys and men should also know about equality and justice, and know that women have equal rights, and should be treated equally,” Malala says.

Because of her work, Malala is admired by thousands. Although growing up she was taught that women could only be doctors, teachers or housewives, she has expressed her desire to be a leader in her country, possibly even prime minister of Pakistan, in the future. For now, Malala continues her advocacy for girls striving for better lives. Every action she takes is another step towards her goal of providing all girls with education, first in Pakistan and then the rest of the world.

Brandi Gomez

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Learn about the Protecting Girls Access to Education in Vulnerable Settings Act.

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Open Air School in Pakistan
In Pakistan, about 58 percent of the population is illiterate and 11-12 million children are working instead of attending school. But thankfully, a firefighter in Islamabad is working to help change these major societal problems in Pakistan.

For the past 30 years, Mohammed Ayub, affectionately known as “Master Ayub,” has held classes in a park near Pakistan’s parliament to educate poor children who cannot afford an education.

At this “open air” school in Pakistan, the children are taught a 1st to 10th grade curriculum, and are even taught how to speak English.

Ayub felt compelled to start teaching poor children after he moved from the agricultural town of Mandi Bahauddin, to Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital. In the city of Islamabad he saw small children in the streets doing various types of work such as cleaning cars, selling trinkets or begging.

One day after work, he approached one of these working children and told him that he would give him an education completely for free. The child accepted his preposition, and as word spread of his open air school in Pakistan, many more children began to enroll. Now, as soon as his work finishes at 3 pm, he goes to the park to teach about 200 students with the help of former students and friends.

Ayub himself pays for all of the students’ books, pencils and food.

Ayub believes education is extremely important for poor children because these citizens are especially vulnerable to developing into criminals and terrorists. In an interview with VPRO Metropolis, Ayub said “poor people; they need help. They start thinking negatively. They become thieves or plot bombings. That’s why I want to help them, so that they have an aim in life. They are our future teachers and doctors.”

His students are very ambitious and dream of becoming doctors and scientists. Before exams, they all gather in the park at night to study; when it gets chilly, they bundle up and study harder.

Ayub’s former students have gone on to attend university and secure well-paying jobs, and in the future, Ayub dreams of building a school for his students, especially because he hopes to incorporate computers in his teaching. In an interview with Al Jazeera he says that he wants to leave a facility behind after his death “where these children continue to get the light of education.”

Anna Gargiulo

Photo: Flickr