On November 22nd 2015, TCF Norway held its 1st Gala event in Oslo. It was an inspiring evening dedicated to collecting funds for the first TCF Norway school in Pakistan and increasing awareness around the topic of education in Pakistan. The Gala was hosted at a cosy hall in Schafteløkken in Frogner- usually used for small parties and weddings. The education theme was highlighted in the decorations through the use of neatly stacked books as centerpieces. A little after 5pm the hall was buzzing with over 60 guests from different walks of life who had gathered to learn and contribute towards a common cause.
The evening began with a musical performance by the great Anja Eline Skybakmoen and her husband David Aleksander Sjølie. Anja has made herself a name in Norwegian Jazz scene in the recent years and has won many awards including the Moldejazz prize in 2012 and Gier Digernes award at the Trondheim Jazz Festival.
Following the music performer, Nada Ahmed, the co-founder of TCF Norway spoke about her inspiration for this project, which mainly came from her parents’ dedication and hard work so that she could go to school and have a better future. Nada underpinned that many of the world’s problems today, may it be intolerance, injustice, violence often boils down to lack of education. There are over 5 million children under the age of 10 in Pakistan who do not go to school making it one of the most illiterate countries in the world. If we can begin to change the lives of these children, the impact will last for generations to come.
The call for action from Nada was followed by an equally inspiring talk by Waseem Zahid, a well-known doctor and blogger in Norway. Waseem has written books and articles on medicine that are frequently quoted in the media. He spoke about his immigrant parents and their move to a country like Norway, where the weather and culture was significantly different from what they were used to and they did not even speak the language. However, they were determined to give their children a better future- that would come from education that Norway provides for free.
Next up was Laila Bokhari who indulged the audience in her new book ‘Arven etter Far’ or ‘My father’s heritage’. Laila’s father, Yawar Bokhari had a vision of educating and thus empowering girls from his hometown Sultanabad in Pakistan. He built a factory in Sultanabad that produced rugs to be sold in Norway. He used the profit from the factory to go back to its employees by building a school where the employee’s children could have a free good quality education. Laila recounted several success stories of girls who were able to change their situation and get their families out of the poverty cycle.
Abdullah Jafari the chairman of TCF USA, came all the way from Houston to provide information and facts on The Citizen’s Foundation and made himself available for any questions from the crowd.
The program ended with a few words from Her Excellency Riffat Masood the ambassador to Norway from Pakistan. She thanked TCF for the great work they are doing in Pakistan and shared some good news on a new proposed education budget in Pakistan from 2% of GDP to 4%. She acknowledged the challenges faced by Pakistan today but also recognized that progress is being made thanks to the dedication of organizations like The Citizen’s foundation.
Funds kept on coming in throughout the night and a few days following the Gala. The total raised from the Gala is 50,000 NOK. The overall total raised by TCF Norway is 320,000 NOK which is 23% of our goal!