141 Schools for Peace
On December 16th, 2014, 141 lives, including those of 132 children, were lost senselessly in a heinous terror attack on a school in Peshawar, Pakistan. The whole world was consumed by shock and grief over this atrocious act. Like many others, Zaki Patel, a 33 year old management consultant residing in Toronto, felt anguished and stunned at the incident until a tweet inspired him, ‘Build 141 schools; one in the name of each life lost.’
“That was the only thing that made sense,” says Zaki.
He immediately created a website, www.141schools.org, and requested people to support his mission of building 141 schools in the honour of the victims and bringing education to underserved areas across Pakistan. His wife, Syeda, joined his noble cause and together they approached The Citizen’s Foundation (TCF) and established a partnership with them to launch a global campaign titled ‘141 Schools for Peace.’
TCF is one of the largest and most reputable non-profit organization in Pakistan, providing educational opportunities for children since 1995. To date TCF has built and is operating 1,000 schools, educating 145,000 underprivileged students in rural and urban slums across Pakistan. TCF is now leading the 141 Schools project to make this vision a reality.
“141 Schools for Peace will be launching at TCF Canada’s 10 year anniversary event on April 10th at Mississauga Convention Centre where we will be unveiling a few exciting new initiatives to TCF Canada’s community members,” revealed Zaki Patel.
The web campaign of 141schools.org has brought together a global community that is contributing in different ways to create a positive response to a national tragedy. Numerous people across the globe have expressed their support and pledged resources to help execute the project. So far the project has received funds for two schools and the first school is expected to be operational later this year.
Most recently, GroupM Pakistan, a subsidiary of global advertising media company GroupM, also came on board to raise funds. Similarly, Pakistani artist Ali Zafar has also committed to donate all proceeds from his latest single, Urainge, dedicated to the victims of the Peshawar attack.
“Unthinkable terrorism has to be countered with unimaginable hope and our efforts today will serve as a counter narrative to resist the advance of extremism in Pakistan,” says Zaki Patel. “The response from all over the world has been extremely positive and that can be seen in the various initiatives taken by our community members — from events organized by schools, to carnivals, and corporate campaigns. The community in Canada too has been very proactive, particularly student bodies in universities. As a starting point, we are approaching Pakistan Student Associations (PSA) at Universities (Waterloo, McGill, McMaster, UofT, UTM) to initiate spreading awareness. Some community members also plan to start campaigns in their job places.”
In due course, education is the only tool that can enlighten minds to stand against extremism and intolerance. By empowering our youth with the education that equips them with moral values and ethics, we can bring a positive change in Pakistan and around the globe.