Breaking stereotypes in the Neelum Valley, Pakistan

Students in Pakistan’s Neelum Valley display the backpacks they received from members of the Rotaract Club of Jhang Saddar.

Students in Pakistan’s Neelum Valley display the backpacks they received from members of the Rotaract Club of Jhang Saddar.

By Talha Mushtaq

Many nonprofits are working hard to increase social welfare programs. Being unified in their approach, some may focus on one issue, such as improving the literacy rate, while others concentrate on employment. Our Rotaract Club of Jhang Saddar has made a name for itself in our community by being multifaceted.

One of over 8,000 Rotaract clubs around the world supported by Rotary, we are committed to not only supporting education but to other efforts, including the fight to
eradicate polio. These efforts have won the hearts of community members and improved the positive image of Rotary.

Recently, 13 members of our club traveled 800 kilometers from Jhang to Kashmir to provide services to the poor. The Rotaractors made their way into the mountains of Kashmir carrying suitcases full of books and backpacks to give to more than 300 students. Five new libraries were inaugurated, and we delivered essential supplies like stationery, books, and snack items to five schools. The project would have been impossible without the leadership and motivation of our club trainer, M. Talha Mushtaq; Haseeb Sarfraz; and our club president, Zeeshan Haider.

The club also organized a massive End Polio Now campaign in the Neelum Valley to educate the kids and their families about the importance of immunization to stop the spread of polio. We cannot stop immunization efforts until all children are vaccinated against the crippling disease. To get more youth involved with the campaign, we held a friendly cricket match for children.

The most important thing we discovered through this project is how critical it is to build connections with the community. Rather than just donating supplies, books, and food, we saw that having conversations with the village members can mean so much more. When we share our stories, we break stereotypes about education, especially for girls. When we provide training and resources, we dispel myths about vaccinations to protect children and future generations.

And as our club continues our journey, we draw inspiration from our national heroes in Pakistan, like female-education advocate Malala Yousafzai. Together, we are making positive changes in Pakistan and building a successful and sustainable future for everyone in our community.

150925_mushtaq_profileAbout the author: Talha Mushtaq is a member of the Rotaract Club of Jhang Saddar, Punjab, Pakistan, and serves as the Rotaract Conference Chairman for Rotary District 3272. The Rotaract Club of Jhang Saddar was established in 1989 and has sponsored nine service projects already this year.

2 thoughts on “Breaking stereotypes in the Neelum Valley, Pakistan

  1. Pingback: Breaking stereotypes in the Neelum Valley, Pakistan | The Rotary Club of Carteret

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