Amal Mansuri, TCF-St. Louis
Even. More. Inspired. As I planned a short visit to Pakistan recently, TCF was definitely one of my priorities.
In Karachi, my first stop was a TCF school and the relatively new TCF College. The two share grounds and are situated directly across from sprawling slums that seem to go on forever. The juxtaposition was humbling.
The school was holding an end-of-term assembly and talent show when we arrived. Although the sun was scorching, it was quite comfortable under the shade of the large white tent. It was heartwarming to witness students being recognized for various academic achievements as parents watched with pride! And while our visit was impromptu, the organizers didn’t miss a beat. They graciously invited us – my guide Sahar Soomro, Head of Operations, TCF-USA and me – to come up on the stage, introduced us, and even asked us to present the faculty awards. What a privilege!
As for these kids living in the slums, I know in my heart that a TCF education will be their ticket out – and one by one, they will change the world.
Next, I visited the TCF head office for the first time where CEO Asaad Ayub Ahmad was extremely generous with his time. I loved learning more about the data-driven metrics his team is using to measure performance and track progress –such as the Principal Quality Index and Whole School Index. In addition, the team is constantly testing ways to leverage technology to reach the growing numbers of teachers and students across the country. Current pilots include a school management app, e-learning via tablets for teacher training, and audio visual rooms at TCF campuses for academic learning and teacher training.
During the office tour, I was not surprised to see three floors filled with staff immersed in their work, but was pleasantly surprised to see an in-house day care area – how cool is that?
And the best for last! While in Lahore, I traveled an hour or so with a TCF driver to Ghazi Minara, Sheikhupura to visit the three schools built and operated by the TCF-St. Louis Chapter and our land benefactors, Dr. and Mrs. Shahid Choudhary. I was so excited to see our schools for the first time and loved seeing our signage, the ‘St. Louis, Missouri Campus’ and the ‘Gateway Arch Campus’ – in the middle of rural village!
I first met with the principals and teachers –smart, articulate, empowered women. They greeted me with a very warm welcome and then openly conveyed how much more they want to do for their children – like teachers everywhere, it was clear that they cared not only about the academics, but also the well-being of their students.
Finally, I had a chance to visit the classrooms and see the children first hand. It wasn’t a regular school day – limited students and parents were there to buy books and uniforms. Nevertheless, the kids were on their best behavior and had even prepared some songs and poems – which they presented with great confidence. I loved that the schools are inclusive environments. I met a young girl around 10 years old. She had a limp but no one gave it a second thought – her teacher shared that she is super bright with great ambition. It was most gratifying.
There are so many positive tangible and intangible impacts that a TCF education will have not only these children, but also on their families and communities. I know this because TCFtracks its alumni and has found an overwhelming majority are pursuing further education and many are already working professionally.
A heartfelt thanks to TCF supporters worldwide, especially our TCF-St. Louis donors. There are still 24 million children out of school in Pakistan – it feels good to know that we’re successfully keeping these 369 children off the streets and in the classrooms where they belong.
I left full of hope for a brighter tomorrow –humbled, inspired and wanting to do more.
Amal Mansuri leads the TCF-St. Louis Chapter.