We at dreamfly are thrilled to announce the launch of our online photobook Daredreaming: On the Streets of Pakistan.
Daredreaming on the Streets of Pakistan is a compilation of five stories of triumph and will – of children living in the slums of Karachi, the financial and commercial capital of Pakistan and home to over 15 million. Born into poverty and illiteracy, like millions across the country, Khalida, Zareena, Abid, Mumtaz, and Asif have all broken the mold and are on their way to unpredictably promising futures.
View their photos and stories at http://www.thedreamfly.org/daredreaming/.
Beautifully photographed by our own Umaimah Mendhro, the book was designed by Fareena Chanda with the online experience built by Phil Brondyke. Fiza Asar was also integral to creating this wonderful piece. We’d also like to thank The Citizens Foundation for their support in Pakistan.
Madhia Qureshi worked with Umaimah and Fiza to compile each of the 5 children’s stories in Pakistan and shares her wonderful experience below. We shop you will enjoy Daredreaming as much as we do – please share your thoughts with us through comments on our blog, on our Facebook page or through Twitter.
When Fiza and Umaimah asked me to be a part of their photo book project almost four years ago, highlighting the stories of five extraordinary young men and women, I couldn’t say no. How could I, when throughout my time with the nonprofit The Citizens Foundation in Karachi, I had seen scores of similar children overcome similar odds, becoming young pioneers in their impoverished, neglected communities, and longed to tell their stories to a world that desperately needs stories like that. Stories of triumph and courage and hope need to be told in the world today. There has to be a counter to all the despondency and pessimism, especially that coming out of and being poured into my unfortunate homeland.
In the summer of 2006, when I was working in marketing at TCF’s Karachi head office, I took a trip to the tiny town of Daharki. Daharki’s economy is mostly dependent on a local fertilizer plant; the land is largely infertile and the weather oppressive and desert-like. The principal of TCF’s school in Daharki, funded by the fertilizer company, took me to meet one of her star students, Abdul Shakoor. We took a bumpy ride to his tiny house, tucked away in a slum outside the town. Shakoor was a boy of about ten, frail and short for his age, with intelligent eyes and a precocious personality that belied his age. He lived in a precariously built jhuggi, with two small bedrooms and a tiny veranda, housing at least 11 children and five adults, plus a cow and a few chickens that provided the family’s income. Every day, Shakoor would walk over a mile in sweltering heat to the TCF school where he had insisted on being admitted the year it opened, while the other children in his family and neighborhood took to the streets for another day of aimless play. Shakoor suffered from occasional fits of epilepsy, but that didn’t stop him. His mother, an illiterate housewife like the rest of the family’s women, was enormously proud of his recent success in third grade (he’d topped his class), his most vocal advocate, and the one firm believer in his unique ambition: he wanted to be a scientist. Scion of a family that had never in all of its previous generations gone to school, as much as attend college, Shakoor was determined to invent and discover. His father, not as supportive, considered Shakoor’s insistence to go to school a waste of time, and resented the Rs. 10 fee his wife paid the school every month. Occasionally, he would refuse to hand her the money, something the school’s principal quietly let pass. Shakoor and his ambition were a mystery, an anomaly to his dad, but to his wife, whose face lit up with limitless pride and joy as she talked about him, he was the one ray of hope, the one way out, the one harbinger of change for her younger offspring. Never had I before seen so much rest on the frail shoulders of a ten year old.
Little did I know though that after I would return to Karachi, write Shakoor’s story for our next newsletter, and buy a little book of 100 famous scientists of the world to send back to him, I would meet many more young people in TCF schools across Pakistan happily and proudly carrying a burden similar to that of Shakoor’s. Abid, Khalida, and others in our photo book are all the Abdul Shakoors of their families. They, and tens and thousands other children like them in slums, villages and jhuggis throughout Pakistan, have decided not to continue revolving in a vicious cycle of poverty. They may not each succeed to the ideals held by the world for professional success, but in their own way, many of them have already succeeded by simply taking the first step–by graduating tenth grade, by inspiring one other child in the neighborhood to enroll in school, or by teaching a sibling–or a parent–how to write her name. The seed has been sown.
In 2007, we began a journey to tell five such stories of success. Countless hours poured into rewrites and painstaking design details have all been worth it. The end-result, I hope, inspires the readers just as the process inspired us. Our five heroes are all grown up, their lives different and better because of their decision to no longer live in the past. Theirs are the voices of the future, channeling hope much needed. Godspeed to them, and to Pakistan.