November 17, 2023
By Ali Ahmad
An education and skills program, titled Khushali Fellowship Program was launched on Thursday at the Forman Christian College & University (FCCU) campus, where over a six-month educational journey, female students, who are the daughters of sanitary workers will be given a chance at skill development. The 30 selected participants who have been chosen for the program will engage with professionals from various fields, also fostering unity across religious lines through intentional mentorship pairings between Christian girls and Muslim women.
The program aims to promote societal responsibility and facilitate transformative change, said the organizers.
The program was launched by the Center for Law and Justice (CLJ), and is an initiative of Mary James Gill and Asif Aqeel. The duo have also previously launched the ‘Sweepers are ‘Sewperheroes’ program.
The Khushali program aims at breaking the cycle of societal challenges for the 30 Christian female students. The program aims to liberate them from the constraints imposed by the caste system.
Funded by the British Council, this project addresses the occupational restrictions faced by Dalits in Pakistan. A key component of the fellowship involves reflexive action research, led by Dr. Sally from Lancaster University, who will remotely monitor and document the progress and impact of the program.
The selection process for the participants was thourough, explained the CLJ organizers, as the girls were chosen from diverse neighborhoods from Lahore. They will be expected to explore fields such as industry, legislation, architecture, and technology. The curriculum encompasses crucial subjects such as civic and political rights, critical thinking, the science behind hatred, and essential skills including English language proficiency and digital literacy.
Among those present at the launch of the event were Sumaira Sammad, Secretary of the Punjab Women’s Development Department, who was there as chief guest. Others included Dr. Johnathan S. Addelton, Rector FCCU, Saira Iftikhar, Head of Corporate Affairs, Friesland Campina, Safi Ullah Gondal – Additional DG PHA, Zeeshan Labha – AC Sahiwal, and others.
They interacted with students to motivate them for the journey ahead.
PREJUDICE & DISCRIMINATION
For many of the parents, it was an emotional moment where they burst out crying to see their children receiving an opportunity for education, something that they could not provide to them.
Sanitary workers spoke to Voicepk and explained to them ways in which they were discriminated against in their lives.
“I once asked for just a little bit of advance payment from a man I worked for so that I could enroll my child in a college,” says Javed. “I was told to my face by him – Why are you trying to enroll your child? You people will always remain at the same level.”