There was no money to send 19-year-old Shahana Rafiq to college, so the young woman had to bury her dreams of higher education. But her desire to study was strong enough to defeat the designs of fate.
Sometime back she had come in touch with the Submission Welfare Society (SWS), an NGO working for the upliftment of young Muslim women and children, which took her under its wings and resent her to school.
Shahana is one of the 13 other students whose education is funded by the NGO now. Started three years back by Ghazala Faisal, 47, the organisation has just one aim – to encourage and counsel people from the minority community to embrace education and positive ways of life.
“During one session where I studied translated scripts of the Holy Quran, I came across a line that to serve the Creator, one needs to serve the creatures…This left me thinking,” Faisal, an Indian Institute of Management, Indore alumnus, said.
The regional director of the department of telecommunications, Faisal went on to set up an NGO in 2012 to do what no government policy could do.
“There are schemes to provide employment to youths and arrange money for the marriage of a girl child. But what is the use of this money if individuals don’t have a direction in life. It is in this area that we are trying to work. We groom young children and youths, tell them how to live a decent life and manage their energies well,” she said.
From sessions on personality development to integration of religious values with a modern approach and spoken English to anger management, the NGO has been organising monthly sessions in economically weak Muslim residential areas and other government schools for years now.
“I met Ghazala ma’am two years back at a training session organised in my school where I used to teach. I attended her sessions and realised that there is so much to explore in this world. Not only did I become more confident, I was also able to understand the career goals of my daughter,” said Shabana Khan. Now SWS is funding the education of her daughter too.
The money for these scholarships comes from ‘zakaat’, money donated voluntarily by economically sound Muslims. “People would come to me asking where they can give zakaat. It is then that this idea came to me. We channelise these programmes through zakaat,” she said, adding that unlike other scholarship programmes, the association, however, demanded that these children work as volunteers with them to keep the circle alive.
“I want these children to have a better take on world. So, we ensure that they participate in the programmes that we hold. They have to either help with the orientation programmes, help children with the academic exercises or the workshops we organise,” she said.
SWS aims to encourage and counsel people from the minority community to embrace education and positive ways of life
It also holds sessions on personality development, spoken English, anger management
It gives scholarships to poor students from donations that it receives from volunteers