“I do have a certain responsibility to my community to improve things
to the extent that I can or at least lend my skills or my experience to the benefit
of future blind people from Pakistan,”
One of our most beloved ex-students, Khansa Maria, came to our campus in class 10 and since then she has won all our hearts with her positive energy, her zest for life and her relentless determination to make her mark in this world. She has been one of the most inspiring figures to walk around this campus.
Maria is blind and has faced disability challenges growing up in Pakistan. And she will use that experience, she said, when she heads to Oxford University next fall as Pakistan’s 2021 Rhodes Scholar-elect, to pursue a master's degree in evidence-based policy intervention and social evaluation.
Khansa Maria, now a senior at Georgetown University Qatar, is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service. Khansa is deeply passionate about advocating for the rights of people with disabilities and designing accessible communities in an effort to ensure inclusivity. To this end, she has organized and has spoken at various conferences on inclusion and inclusive policy. In her sophomore year she was a recipient of a Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF) Grant which enabled her to investigate the barriers impacting the inclusion of people with disabilities in the Qatari workforce. Her Honors thesis focuses on the evolution of disability rights movement in postcolonial South Asia and how it has shaped representations of people with disabilities. At her university, Khansa leads various clubs including the Georgetown Debating Union and the South Asian Society. Currently, Khansa is working with the US Embassy in Qatar to develop a conversation around diversity, inclusion and promote regenerative discourse on prevalent socio-political issues. At Oxford, Khansa hopes to further her studies in public policy and social intervention and to work on inclusive policy making and capacity building for the disability community in Pakistan.
To read more about Khansa, click on the links below.
Mahnoor Ali Syed, is the recipient of the coveted “The Queens Young Leaders Award 2018” for which she was invited to The Buckingham Palace to receive the award from Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth herself.
Mahnoor is in her third year of her degree in International Development Studies and Economics. Mahnoor started her non-profit organization, “Spread the Word” to help marginalized individuals in her community. Her startup “Spread the Word” partners with seven schools and holds extracurricular workshops for students focusing on issues such as bullying, child abuse, mental and physical health. It now has 300 volunteers working for it from all over Pakistan. Furthermore, she has partnered transgender rights organisation ‘Khwajasira Support’ to raise funds to provide vocational training of 50 transgender people. She also works with the Barkat Foundation to arrange health camps run by doctors in 15 deprived areas.
Mahnoor now also is a bold spokeswoman for feminism and gender-based violence. Her academic and research interests at McGill also focuses around feminism in South Asia. She also runs the South Asian Collective at McGill, a club based on community-building, political engagement and sharing resources. Mahnoor’s publication experience includes being editor at Catalyst, staff writer at McGill Policy Association Journal and Executive Editor at Leacock, McGill.
Prince Harry’s message
In a video message, Prince Harry congratulated the winners of The Queens Young Leaders Award 2018. “This award recognises the enormous efforts and courage of these inspiring young people who are tackling some of the Commonwealth’s most pressing challenges and inspiring others to realise their full potential,” he said. “What has always struck me about these young people is their humble but passionate determination to make life better for their communities. They really are transforming the lives of those around them, and some cases far beyond that.
“To all the winners, you have done your countries proud and I know you’ll do us all proud for many years to come. Embrace this opportunity ahead of you and enjoy it. You really are changing lives. So good luck and congratulations.”
To read more about Mahnoor Ali Syed click on the links below:
Alina Azhar, who became the first Pakistani to claim the prestigious Lady Diana Award for philanthropy in summer of 2019, has now taken her humanitarian work to the international stage. In Istanbul, where she is a student, Azhar has focused her philanthropic efforts towards increasing access to education and healthcare for refugees, with the aid of her friends and the local Pakistani community.
The 21-year old, who was also recently elected as a member of Pakistan’s National Youth Assembly, is reputed as one the most promising young humanitarians in the country.
Last year, the young change-maker came to fore for her work towards increasing awareness about mensuration among vagrant women in Lahore. For her efforts, she was presented the Lady Diana Award, which the only charity is set up in the memory of the Princess of Wales and her belief that young people hold the power to reshape the world.
Today, Alina has once again directed her charitable endeavors to the city of Lahore, where she, along with her team, has been increasing awareness about the global pandemic. Her latest charity drive involved distributing facemasks, shoes and warm clothes among vagrant communities living in the city’s Jauhar Town area.
Azhar said that her journey towards philanthropy started when she was a primary school student in Lahore. “I volunteered for a project for the Imran Khan Foundation in fifth grade. That single experience made me realize my calling for social work,” said the budding philanthropist. “The passing of my father in 2015 was a devastating setback in my mission. But my mother, grandfather and my friends urged me to continue my social work and it has been almost 11 years now that I have been associated these humanitarian causes,”
As the former Vice President of the Community Service Society at our campus, she actively participated in Charity drives for the underprivileged and from there her dedication for the humanitarian cause matured and evolved. She eventually started her non-profit organization, named “Aasra”. Alina said that she hasn’t necessarily picked a particular community to serve. Her organisation however takes a special interest in working for the rights of underprivileged women, gender minorities, orphans and the elderly living in slums and deplorable conditions.
In 2019, “Aasra” adopted an orphanage school, “Little Steps” where Alina offers free education to all her students who are either orphans or come from poverty-stricken homes.
To read more about Khansa, click on the links below.