By Zartaj Asim (YES-2017-18, Pakistan, hosted by World Link in Freeburg, IL)
I found inspiration for this project in a unique way. One day, during my school’s annual exam, I saw a student sitting in the playground who looked very sad. I approached him and asked:
“Hi how are you? Why are you so sad?”
He gave me a very deep and hurt look and stared at me for a few seconds before answering that his father is a driver and was paralyzed a few months ago. His father has not been paid in three months and now the boy is not sure if he will be able to continue his studies.
His answer squeezed my heart into a fist. I decided to help him with his new class studies, but then I thought about how many other students in my community might also be worried about continuing their own education. I decided I wanted to help them in any way I could. I made a survey with the help of my school teachers and the Section Head Senior at my school in order to find students facing similar situations.
We found approximately 24 students who were also not able to cover the cost of books and notebooks for the new school session. It was then that I decided to dedicate my Global Youth Service Day 2019 project to this cause. I held the project at GIK College and provided free sets of books, notebooks, and school stationery to students who otherwise could not afford these supplies.
Literacy is an important tool to succeed in our society and financial instability is a barrier to achieving literacy. The goals of the project was to provide access to books and school supplies to underserved students in the community in order to reduce barriers to education. I collected more than 200 used books from my neighborhood, friends, and school for students in grades 3-8. Using these books, I organized a book drive for students who are not able to cover the cost of books for the new school session. On annual result day, the students were given the gently used books and school supplies to be used for the next session.
For less privileged students, this book drive served as an opportunity to break a financial barrier and receive books and school supplies for the new school session. Education is as important as oxygen and many underprivileged families cannot afford books for their children due to financial problems. This project aimed to break financial barriers and help students get books and new school courses.
I attended “Advancing Leadership Skills-- World Link’s PAL-NYC Workshop 2018,” World Link’s Public Achievement Leadership (PAL) Program five day conference designed to give participants the basic skills and knowledge needed for project management and to start alumni projects. I utilized leadership skills I learned during the workshop in order to successfully execute my project.
I believe that we succeeded in creating awareness among community members to help students reduce barriers in education. More than 100 students, parents, teachers, and volunteers were involved and impacted by this project. Overall, the project was a success and received positive feedback from school teachers, students and parents.
Lastly, thank you to YES! It is only because of my exchange year that I am able to execute a successful community service project like this one.