Shahbano stood by a stall of hand-made accessories that she and her friends had prepared during small breaks at school. “We’ve been making these during recess, free periods or after school. When a teacher wouldn’t show up for class, we’d sit together and work on these instead of going out to play,” she said, her hazel-brown eyes sparkling in the sunlight pouring into the courtyard.
The Mashal Model School for underprivileged children organised their annual charity art bazaar to help raise funds for the students on Saturday. Located in the suburban Bari Imam, the school also offers free-of-cost education to children of internally displaced families from Kashmir, Mardan and Buner among other parts of the region as well as refugees from Afghanistan.
Buzzing with activity, the place had students, volunteers and visitors browsing through the stalls. The open space and an adjoining room housed a collection of items prepared from recycled materials.
Bottle-ends were revamped as candle stands, stickers and paper cut-outs adorned with cartoons made colourful fridge magnets and bottles with beats and chunky buntings rang wind chimes. Cannisters and plastic bottles were fashioned into stationery and magazine holders, bottles stuffed with candy as toys to keep little children engaged and painted bottles stuffed with woolen stoles made for fancy gifts at nominal prices.
Zeba Husain, the principal and founding director, said, “We are trying to raise funds for our children,” she said, adding that the schoolchildren had taken final examinations and the money would help them buy books and stationery for the new academic session.
They have to raise an amount of Rs350,000 for 550 schoolchildren. “Once we have raised enough money to purchase books, we will invest the rest in skills training and creative workshops for our students. Currently, they are learning some basic computer skills at the school,” Husain added.
European Union Ambassador Lars-Gunner Wigemark, who inaugurated the exhibition, commended the students’ teamwork and the volunteers’ spirit in working for the cause. He said that other organisations should also work on similar initiatives to promote education in the country.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 16th, 2014.