“My personal journey with SOS Children’s Villages Pakistan started in 1999, when I was honored to become a founding member of the SOS Children’s Village Multan. Been given the honorary post of General Secretary SOS Projects Multan, by the National Association of SOS Pakistan, and offered to serve as an honorary member in the Board of Governors SOS Pakistan, I laid the foundation of our beautiful SOS Village Multan in 1999 and thus sowed the seed of a cause so pure that it led to bearing beautiful fruits!
A house for orphans and the destitute was soon to become the biggest part of my life and perhaps teach me the most important lesson of life,
“Humanity before anything!”
I along with a few other founding members was given the task, to not only raise funds for the construction of the projects, but also to oversee the management as the years progressed. We started in 1999, in a temporary donated property with only hope that we would be able to give life to the destitute children of this region and by the grace of God we flourished.
Our team had completed the beautiful campus of the SOS Village Multan by raising a generous amount of money with the philanthropist spirit of the community, in support of the cause giving a life, shelter, education and health to the orphaned children of the community. The village is by far the most beautiful landmark of humanity in Multan. Brick finished elegant 17 homes, enveloped by a lush green landscape, playgrounds, cricket field, auditorium and a mosque are just a few of the landmarks. Currently we have a total of 200 children in our village. We meet our cost by sponsorships and donation in kind.
The support grew as did the faith in the cause and soon in 2006, we expanded providing our services in Education, by making a school based on high standard curriculum for the financially under privileged and the children of SOS. Serving a proud strength of 1300 children, the school runs on a non -profit generation basis, with a minimum fee, starting at Rs. 300($ 5 per month). Syllabus books are provided to the children free or charge.
With each passing year, we were able to achieve more and more and have recently added to the list of projects an institute for technical and vocational training to over 300 youth, providing training in various trades, such as, plumbing, welding, stitching, electronics and more. A women empowerment center in 2016 also took flight under our care, servicing women to gain financial sustainability through creating a stitching unit catering to bulk orders, thus providing the needy women an outlet of earning since 2016.
My services since 1999 have been pro bono for the cause, but as SOS has been an integral part of my life, I carry it wherever I go and luck brought me to St. Andrews. My son Ismail Sheikh joined the university of St. Andrews in 2012 and graduated in 2016. During his time at St. Andrews, he and his friend, Mahnoor Siafi, introduced SOS cause to Sitara and worked hard to place SOS Multan projects in the beneficiaries list. Since 2014, SOS Multan and Sitara have enjoyed a wonderful new bond and Sitara has allowed us to realize many small and big dreams for our projects. With the donation received previously, we have been able to furnish classrooms in our school and make pathways for the children in our village.
I am humbled and indebted to the young adults who participate and form the Sitara team, who year after year are making a difference and reaching around the globe to help. I hope that this beautiful bond between SOS Multan and Sitara continues onwards year after year. For no donation is too small or big to not make a difference.
Mahnaz F Sheikh