An inspiring story of a bunch of dedicated volunteers who work for realizing the dreams of students from low-income area of Hyderabad
By Rupa Abdi for TwoCircles.net,
Hyderabad: Don’t allow yourself to be misled because of her burka and hijab or her surroundings. She is not just another ordinary Muslim girl living a simple life. She is an engineering student who also works part time for an NGO called Helping Hands.
Meet petite young Husna. She has just finished conducting a coaching class for a group of eighth standard students from Qayam Nagar, a low income Muslim majority area here.
Qayam Nagar has been the focus area for Helping Hands, the NGO dedicated to education, empowerment and employment generation among poor Muslim families.
After the class, standing in front of the Community Hall, Husna, daughter of a taxi-driver, talks to me about her dreams and ambitions.
Merely 22, but she is very clear about her goals in life. Currently pursuing an engineering degree, Husna hopes to take up a job or pursue M Tech after it. Her father barely earns enough for a family of four daughters and a son. But firm that she is, Husna says she has no plans of giving in to the pressure of marriage and wants to become financially independent and support her family in near future. “Marriage can wait!” the sprightly youngster tells me.
Husna A student-volunteer conducting a class
Qayam Nagar is a cluster of houses crisscrossed by narrow lanes. It has three mosques, a community hall and a primary school. Majority of the menfolk work as auto, cab and bus drivers. Literacy rate, especially among the women and girls, is very low. Majority of the families live below the poverty line. Basically, a locality that is a typical example of a colony bypassed by the so-called ‘development and good governance’.
Husna and other student-volunteers help the students with their school homework and exam preparations. These are students who attend the ‘Sunday School’ run by Helping Hands.
Shukat Ali Mirza, the man behind Helping Hands, has been running this facility since February 2012 in spite of ongoing resource crunch and local politics. At the Sunday School, student-volunteers teach English and Maths to about 150 students from various classes. These are students who attend a regular school in Qayam Nagar, which is English medium and affiliated to the Andhara Pradesh State Education Board. Sunday School classes are followed by namaz and a lunch.
“The children are also taught etiquettes and discipline. Meetings with their parents are held on a regular basis for feedback and to discuss the future of their children,” he informs.
Husna is excited as she tells of the highlight-of-the-year activity of Helping Hands. A 40-day summer camp is organised every year since 2012 for students of first to sixth standard. “Besides English and Math, meditation and indoor games are conducted during this camp. At the end of the summer camp, the children are taken for a picnic at the farm house of a well-wisher.”
Helping Hands also runs a computer centre and a tailoring centre to help young adults of Qayam Nagar with vocational training. In addition to this, workshops are conducted for guiding them in personality development, interview-performance skills etc. Several medical camps have also been held so far.
Shaukat Mirza with the children of Qayam Nagar at a picnic
Along with these many regular activities, Helping Hands also distributes rice, woolen blankets, Eid dresses, sponsors deserving students for higher education and during medical emergencies, provides financial aid to the residents of Qayam Nagar.
While Helping Hands has managed to raise some grants through the CM Relief Fund of Andhra Pradesh and Sajjadiyya Trust, it is still dependent on individual donors for running its various projects.
Mirza believes that the marginalized people do not need our charity but just a helping hand for support and guidance to put them on the right path. “God willing, I will be able to duplicate this achievements in other poor Muslim colonies of Hyderabad too.”
(Helping Hands can be reached at http://helpinghandsindia.co.in/ )