A Day @ Al Zohra Welfare Association
I was invited to an institute called Al Zohra by one of my colleagues at Nixor College, Sobia Asif while I was in Karachi for a short yet a productive spring break.
Al Zohra serves as a primary school and a vocational training institute, an excellent community welfare platform which not only caters to adjoining communities, in fact, underprivileged women from all over Karachi are a part of their extensive network.
As I was en route towards my destination I entered this place called “Delhi Colony”, living in Karachi for the past twenty years I had never set foot here, the fact of the matter is its located right beside one of the posh localities of the country known as DHA. It looked as if I was passing by one of the skinniest streets in Karachi with razor-thin alleys. Whenever I couldn’t figure out the way ahead, I asked people about Al Zohra and I got an instant direction whether they were the street vendors or children going home from school.
When I reached the place, I was told that the primary school hours had ended and now the vocational training for women was in progress. I could see women learning stitching and sewing with the adequate equipment along with literature and design previews for further assistance. Upon meeting Ms. Nighat who serves as the general secretary of the foundation, I inquired about the operational structure, programmes offered and their basic requirements (details in the website link attached below). Unlike many vocational training institutes in Pakistan, this wasn’t only restricted to sewing and stitching.
I failed to realize that I was just on the ground floor and it was a six-story building so what else was happening at that point in time? I interacted with students being taught English language using digital multimedia that was enriching for a community which barely had some of the basic necessities of life. I was taken to the computer lab where my perception was basic writing and typing skills being taught considering the age group of students but to my utter surprise, the courses were based on Microsoft applications mainly excel and word. These programs and courses weren’t offered on ad hoc basis or instructor`s discretion, in fact, the curriculum was properly researched and developed accordingly. The institute it self-was registered with STEVTA (Sindh Technical Education and Vocational Training Authority)
Education isn’t just textbook knowledge, right? How many schools and institutions to acknowledge the fact? but have failed to impart practical and skill-based curriculum to their students. I was taken to an inbuilt salon where beautician courses are taught. I met a little girl who was attempting her final exam tasked with dressing another girl as a bride. These skills taught to children of that age could prove out to be a valuable addition to their lives hence serving the underlying purpose of the institution. How many of us know how to cook? and to clear some misconceptions making noodles and frying an egg isn’t cooking. The cooking instructor at Al Zohra welcomed me with some delicious recipes in the making and her students were delighted to have a guest in their kitchen today.Lastly, completely against my expectations, I was taken to a gym facility for women who are trained by a professional instructor, the physical fitness program covers weight training, cardio, and yoga.
The place has much more to offer and if you’re reading this you can help Al Zohra in creating an impact ( check out details below). With registered women from all over Karachi, they cater to their basic needs through ration grants, education grants, medical assistance and wedding assistance as well. Places like these are a beacon of hope for the underprivileged of our society. Unless we interact with those responsible for running such institutions we can never realize the plight of the people they serve.
How can I help Al Zohra?
- Sponsor a child or sponsor a teacher program through financial assistance.
- Volunteer on regular basis.
- Social internship during summers or winters.
- Offering your expertise to assist them in any of the programs offered.