How far can your dollar reach?

In June 2015, my wife, Sehrish, and I were contacted via Facebook by a distant and trusted family member. She told us about a girl named Sanam from rural Pakistan.

I am requesting for your support to a needy student from Chitral studying in Aga Khan Higher Secondary School Kuragh in FS year II. The parent of the student are illiterate having no means of earning. I work for needy but talented students, hence from the past 11 years through some local donors i have helped this girl continue her studies. Now she just need Rs.15000 to pay her five month dues of AKHS. If you can extend this support through your friends / contacts i can forward you the account number for direct sending of funds to help the student.

Rs. 15,000 Pakistani rupees equated to around $190 Canadian Dollars.

$190 was standing in the way of Sanam graduating from school and having a shot at pursuing her dreams.

We funded her ourselves.

As with most fund-raising efforts for initiatives in Pakistan, unfortunately, we also crossed our fingers, hoping that the story was credible and that the funds would reach the intended recipient — Sanam, the bright but economically struggling student.

One month passed silently. Then another.

We had almost resigned the fate our donation to blind hope when one hot day in August, our contact in Pakistan — the one who had brought Sanam to our attention — reached back to us again. And she shared this with us:

It was a hand-written letter from Sanam. She shared her parents’ struggle to make ends meet.

She shared her dreams to continue her education and to forge a way forward and make things better for her family and herself.

And she left the biggest update to the end:

Sanam was able to graduate and secure a full, four-year scholarship to attend a university abroad.

We were ecstatic! With an infusion of $190 — an amount that seems very attainable in the West but is almost three-quarters of Pakistan’s average wage of $255 — one girl was able to power through the last sprint in her higher secondary education and to secure a sponsorship to pursue post-secondary education.

But most importantly, and what gets us most excited, is that Sanam now stands a chance to empower both herself and her family to break out of poverty.

Sanam is just the first girl who we’ve had the privilege to help out. Our contact has since created a shortlist of more than two-dozen high-potential and low-income students who are unable to progress academically because they’re unable to pay their fees.

In 2013, Pakistan had the highest school dropout rate in the world. The story has sadly not changed much since.

And if we could help one girl get past a big roadblock in her academic progress and open up the chances to drive wider social change with a donation that was lower than one month’s worth of groceries, we wondered if we could replicate this success across the country.

To this end, we’re extremely fortunate to say that we’ve started an initiative to tackle this challenge.
We have founded Taleem Fund on the belief that finance should never be an excuse for failing to get an education.

Our aim is to connect high-potential, low-income students in under-privileged areas of Pakistan (and perhaps later in other developing countries) with donors in the developed world and bring as much transparency to the process as possible. We aim to highlight the impact of each donor’s contributions on the student’s life and to enrich the connection between them.

We invite you to visit our inaugural website to look at some of the students’ stories and to join in our journey. Please leave us a message or reach out at on our Facebook page if you’d like to connect and help us in any way.

$190 helped a girl to reach her potential and gave her the opportunity to help her family and community.

How far can your dollar reach?

www.taleemfund.org