Murree - All of us, while we are still young and enthusiastic, in our student life or in the beginning of our careers think of doing something extraordinary for our society aimed at bringing change by promoting education, eradicating poverty, empowering our women, facilitating people in times of disasters and conflicts with food and health assistance etc. We all do think but only a few of us transform the same into actions and those few really become a source of inspiration for the rest.

Sara Khalili, a young woman and founder of “Education for All,” is one such example. She is a law graduate, an award winning web blogger and a social activist. Four years ago, she began with the idea of promoting fair and quality education to those who lack the means.

“In 2012 sitting with a bunch of friends we decided it is time we put a halt to our mere talks and in fact act upon the ideas. So we began with supporting one child at a time. In the start it would only cost us around Rs 500 each from our monthly budget. We found the target groups and financially contributed towards achieving the goal of educating their kids, with ongoing monitoring and evaluation. It brought me great inner satisfaction,” said Sara Khalili.

“With the passage of time I came to know about more unprivileged school dropouts, so I decided to expand it further and floated the idea on internet. The people really supported the cause, some did it morally and some monetarily but I received a great response overall. I started off with a small team, but eventually most of the people dropped out because of their personal engagements.”

In situations like these, one gets very disappointed and causes often come to an end due to the lack of moral or financial assistance but Sara Khalili didn’t stop, even without any plans she kept moving, making new ways, like water overcoming the hurdles creating new paths.  People even thought it was emotional step and the energy and zeal to carry on will soon fade out and the whole campaign will be over in no time. Things started becoming harder for her, more students started pouring in and Sara had the responsibility to cater to their needs. “How could I run away when so many people were looking at me? Donors are never permanent, some donated good amount initially but then faded. But I never felt hopeless or disappointed. I never paused to think for how long I will continue doing this or how many students I will cater,” said Sara.

“Things moved onto a bigger forum, the amount was raised from Rs 500 to Rs 1,500 for one student as it was hard to cater the kids in expensive schools and it seemed unfair to pay a heavy amount for just one student. But we never settled for less. We never asked the parents to shift the child from private school to a government school. I tried to arrange the money adverting to all possible avenues.”

Requests for supporting university students also came along; the budget was deficient at par with the university fees. “I still remember my first adult student was a taxi driver with whom I travelled in Rawalpindi. He needed money for his ACCA fees.”

The determination with which Sara continued, there was no impediment. Goodwill is very important in every social work and she earned it in the 8 years of her online writing career. People on social media trusted her.

Sara was in her student life then and wasn’t even earning. “I would put up appeals, text people, increase my contacts, put in my own pocket money and did other such things to cover the fees of the students I had.”

Currently the lowest fee that is being paid is Rs 185 and the highest is Rs 3,000 (someone personally pays for it).

“I receive donations from all around the world. In fact we have more donors overseas than in the country. Some people just take the responsibility of promoting one child’s education instead of donating in one go. It’s growing each day and it’s helping a lot of people.”

“Education for All” really stands up for its name; it supports all kids regardless of their gender, ethnicity or religion. Currently there are a large number of these kids and most of them hail from rural areas of Pakistan. Quite a large number of students have passed out and likewise are on way.”

They are also running a website: http://education4all.pk/ where people can reach them. Although they avoid marketing the cause through putting up the pictures of kids and making it public, it’s a strict policy because these children have to grow up in this society and we don’t want to cause them any embarrassment.

Although no one has ever doubted the cause and intentions yet for keeping it transparent, we make sure we send the donors a monthly receipt of where their money was spent.

One person who’s been of great help to me is Zeerak Khan, a student from Islamabad. Now many students contact me, they want to work with me and contribute in this noble cause but sadly I don’t have much work for them. I would although want to turn it into an organisation where students can volunteer.

For the last two years, Sara has been working on Ramazan rations for the unprivileged families and sending Eid dresses and gifts for kids. She is also getting requests for medical expenses, weddings of unprivileged girls and a lot more. “I do not really endorse them as her personal ventures but I forward the appeals. They are never left unanswered.”

—The writer is a freelance

contributor.