The importance of representation: “Put us in the news!”

Morse School students use ribbons to express their support for immigrant families.

I wrote this piece after a discussion with fourth and fifth graders at a public school in Cambridge MA; slightly different versions published in the Cambridge Chronicle and The News on Sunday. The students’ desire to be “in the news” reflects what I believe is one of journalism’s key roles – to ensure that the voices of the under-represented get heard. The selfie-culture sweeping the world isn’t just about narcissism. It speaks to the human need to be affirmed and remembered. I was here. See me. Hear me. 

PERSONAL POLITICAL

By Beena Sarwar

“Did you see our ribbons? They are for immigrant families,” says Emma, one of half a dozen 9 and 10-year olds I’m talking to about journalism on a bitterly cold weekend in March.

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Pushing forward the cart that says “Educate Pakistan!”

My piece about the TCF fundraiser in Boston last weekend, published in The News on Sunday, May 15, 2016

Adil Najam, Nargis Mavalvala-Ateed Riaz-Beena Sarwar

Adil Najam, Nargis Mavalvala, Ateed Riaz at the speakers table. Photo: Beena Sarwar

Pitching in for education in Pakistan from Boston and beyond

Beena Sarwar

The Citizens’ Foundation is doing an amazing job, and I’m honoured to be here,” said Nergis Mavalvala, giving the keynote address at the sold-out Third Annual The Citizen’s Foundation (TCF) Boston Fundraiser on Saturday, 7 May, 2016.

Propelled to celebrity status by her role in the recent breakthrough on gravitational waves predicted by Einstein, the Pakistani-American astrophysicist at MIT added, “TCF is fantastic – give generously”. Continue reading

Call for short films: “Pakistan: How To Make A Better Future?”

Eqbal Ahmad video contest Pakistan better futureCalling all filmmakers: video contest organized by the Eqbal Ahmad Centre for Public Education: Produce and submit 8-minute videos on the theme: “Pakistan: How To Make A Better Future?” Details at this link (text below). Also check out these 8-min videos – impressive compilation.

The competition seeks to raise awareness and encourage activism on important social issues, and encourage the use of new media in Pakistan.

Submissions for 2014 may deal with any of the following:

  1. Citizenship: What are the rights and responsibilities of being a citizen of Pakistan?
  2. Minority Rights: Issues of Pakistan’s religious and ethnic minorities.
  3. Terrorism: Why is Pakistan afflicted and what’s to be done?
  4. Continue reading

Remembering Anita Ghulam Ali

A leader in education

A trailblazer, Anita Ghulam Ali’s courage and biting wit will remain an inspiration

Here’s the article I wrote on Anita Ghulam Ali for The News on Sunday: A legend passes on (Aug 17, 2014); also see Zubeida Dossal’s article about her, shared by Zubeida Mustafa. Here’s the link to her interview in Dawn, 2012.

She leaves a void that will be hard to fill, but her legacy will live on through the institutions she was associated with, and the people she mentored over the decades, particularly in the field of education. Although Anita Ghulam Ali had no children of her own, many of these individuals were as dear to her as if they were her own. She took a keen interest in their work and personal wellbeing, in the most non-interfering way, encouraging, questioning, supporting, and motivating. She would ask affectionately, with genuine concern, after their children and grandchildren, whom she’d seen grow from babies to “young ladies” or gentlemen, as she would put it. Continue reading

Beyond security issues: A ‘wow’ moment and an inspiring video

For TCF success stories visit http://bit.ly/HLP1Fq

For TCF success stories visit http://bit.ly/HLP1Fq

There are many positive initiatives taking place in the field of education in Pakistan, but The Citizens Foundation is the largest and most visible, and probably also the most professionally run. Even if you drop in on a school without prior notice, you’ll find the same quality and care. Concerned citizens (not just Pakistanis) got together recently in Boston to form a chapter to support TCF. Yasmin’s experience that I’ve written about (below, published in The News and in TOI blogs) echoes my own, many years ago when I visited a TCF school. Scroll right down for an inspiring short video interview of a TCF graduate. More success stories hereUpdate: Harvard Pakistan Student Group is starting a summer internship programme with TCF, starting Summer 2014 (will update with details as soon as they’re finalised). Continue reading

To Taliban: “I want education for you, for your children” – Malala on the Daily Show

Malala on Daily ShowMalala Yousufzai’s conviction and sincerity shines as she speaks, even as the after-effects of the attack on her are still evident in the slight disfigurement of her facial muscles. And the youngest ever Nobel Peace Prize nominee recently speechless even the satirical TV host Jon Stewart when she talked about her thoughts about the Taliban. Asked when she first learnt she was a target of the Taliban, she says it was through a visitor who told her to put her name in Google search.

“I just could not believe it, I said no, it’s not true,” she said. “We thought the Taliban were not that much cruel that they would kill a child – I was 14 at the time.” She was initially more afraid for her father but when she began thinking about it, she thought that if  attacked she would hit the Talib with her shoe – a comment that raised a laugh. Continue reading

A Dutch journalist’s impressions of a Karachi dream turned reality

Babette-Cambridge-April-06I am proud of my old friend Ahsan Jamil for the work he is doing in Karachi, and delighted to have introduced him to another old friend Babette Niemel, who was inspired to write the following article about Aman Foundation, published in The News on Sunday, on March 10, 2013.

A Dutch journalist records her impressions of how Aman Foundation is changing the lives of Karachi’s underserved people

I have met Ahsan Jamil several times during my frequent visits to Karachi over the years. A modest, lively, kind man and a close childhood friend of my friend Beena Sarwar; when I met him once again a little over a year ago, he was positively beaming.

Engaged and committed: Aman Foundation CEO Ahsan Jamil and Manager Command and Control Center in discussion.

Engaged and committed: Aman Foundation CEO Ahsan Jamil and Manager Command and Control Center in discussion.

It was a cool summer evening in Karachi and we were out on the porch at Beena’s house. Ahsan was inviting her to come and checkout the new work he was doing. He could give us a tour of the facility, he said, extending the invitation to me as well. Continue reading

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