In the summer of 2018, we opened one library in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco (in collaboration with the Atlas Cultural Foundation) and one library in Islamabad, Pakistan (in collaboration with the Pakistani Air Force Women's Association).
For two years, HER had been working with the Atlas Cultural Foundation to build a community library in the village of Amezray, located in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco. In August of 2018, against the stunning background of juniper trees, tall rocky mountains, and historic Berber architecture, Hannah and Zoha were in Amezray organizing the library with community leaders.
The library holds custom-built bookshelves, desks, and chairs, over one thousand books in English, French, and Arabic, and a variety of art supplies. Led by four fully trained community leaders and teachers, the library will be utilized by three local schools as well as the village’s women’s group. The group hosts writing and reading workshops to empower local mothers and young women. Students who undergo tutoring programs led by the Atlas Cultural Foundation will also use the library resources to accelerate their learning and improve test scores.
Additionally, in collaboration with leadership in the Pakistani Air Force Women's Association, HER has also opened a library in a government school in Islamabad! This library also serves several hundred students of all ages. HER has donated new furniture plus gently used books in English and Urdu towards this effort.
In December of 2017, we opened our seventh library in the Sarosh Academy of Swat, Pakistan.
With the help of our donors, volunteers, and team members in both the U.S. and Pakistan, this library is fully equipped with bookshelves, desks, and chairs as well as over 1,000 books for all reading ages in both English and Urdu. Thank you to the staff of the Sarosh Academy for welcoming us to this school, and best wishes to all of the students who will use this library and be inspired to excel in their learning.
In March of 2017, we opened five libraries for impoverished girls' schools in Swabi, Lahore, and Sargodha, Pakistan.
The room was without furniture, and without books. The students sat on the dusty, cold ground and shared a few tattered paperbacks. This was the reality for 5,350 girls and boys in five different impoverished schools in Swabi, Lahore, and Sargodha, Pakistan. Through our work, in all five of these schools, we have opened safe reading spaces with thousands of gently used books for all of the students to enjoy, inspiring these thousands of bright, young girls and boys to pursue bright futures. The first two libraries we opened were in all girls' schools in Swabi and Lahore, Pakistan. We created these libraries from the ground up: first, our professional carpenter repainted the library rooms and designed, built, and installed custom chairs, desks, and bookshelves. Simultaneously, we shipped thousands of books collected in Washington, D.C., to the schools in Pakistan via the Pakistan Embassy in D.C. We then hired local professional librarians in Pakistan to train the schools' teachers on library maintenance, and as the books arrived to Pakistan, these trained teachers catalogued and organized them. Shortly after, Zoha's family flew to Pakistan and opened the libraries! The final three libraries we opened during this trip were located in three co-ed schools on the Sargodha Pakistan Air Force Base. These three schools had independently begun constructing the libraries, but did not have enough resources to finish them. Therefore, we completed these libraries by donating thousands of books to them and ensuring that the teachers maintained them. During the same trip, we also visited the library we built in Hair, Pakistan in 2016-- and we are excited to say that it is a success! It is being effectively used by both teachers and students on a daily basis (the older girls even have a library period three times a week!) The books are being responsibly issued out, and the girls' lives are being changed.
Students using our Hair library said: "We love the books! Our favorite books are... the Spiderman books."
Through our libraries, generations of girls will read those beloved Spiderman books and be empowered to become their own superheroes: as doctors, fashion designers, engineers, and more.
In March of 2016, we built a library for an impoverished government girls' school in a village called Hair in Pakistan.
There were no bookshelves, no desks, and no chairs. The girls had to sit on dirty mats on the ground, and all 1,600 students in the school shared the same 50-100 books available in the school. The first step in the process of creating the library was to transform the room: we repainted it, cleaned it out, and built desks, chairs, and bookshelves. After the furniture was all made and put in place, we got a group of teachers together that would serve as the librarians of the school. We hired a professional librarian from a local college to train the teachers on their duties as librarians; these teachers are now able to use their training to ensure that the library remains sustainable for many generations of students to come. As the teachers were undergoing this training, the books were transported to Pakistan and delivered at the school. When the books arrived, Zoha and her family flew to Pakistan, worked with a group of seventh-grade students to organize the books, and formally opened the library. We were honored to be joined by friends, family, the seventh-grade students we worked with, and Mr. Talha Barqi, the representative of the village in Pakistan's Parliament.
"This library is the first step in helping girls achieve their dreams through education." -Hannah
In March of 2014, Zoha conducted a research project in Pakistan in which she interviewed students, teachers, politicians, and policy makers about the current standards of girls' education in Pakistan.
Zoha was motivated to conduct this project in order to understand more about why girls in Pakistan face oppression when seeking education. Furthermore, she developed a personal initiative to become involved after learning that some of her own female family members living in Pakistan were forced to drop out of high school, never graduating and becoming mothers at young ages. The project consisted of interviews with students, teachers, politicians, and policy makers that lived and worked in Pakistan. Through her research, Zoha concluded that the main reasons behind why many Pakistani girls are not educated are early marriage and pregnancy, financial deficits, and, most importantly, lack of family involvement.
"Lack of involvement from parents and siblings is the biggest reason that many girls in Pakistan either drop out of school or are not enrolled in school. If a young, uneducated girl is told by her family that her role in society is limited to the walls of her home, she will live her life believing nothing else." -Zoha