On October 1st, 1998, a school sponsored by John Feizy and his company Feizy Import & Export, in tandem with The Child Care Foundation (CCF), opened its doors in the small town of Attock, Pakistan. It marked a pivotal moment for the children of the weaving town—the moment when education first became available to them. Refugees fleeing Afghanistan, a country that has been in a state of civil unrest for decades, populate the small village. Often unprepared for the influx of people, such small communities rarely have the ability to support children with even the most basic educational needs. Most of the adults become weavers as a means to support their families, but the educational needs of the children had been neglected until the Feizy-sponsored CCF school opened its doors. After 21 years focused not only on educating children but also acting as a community center, the Attock school has been one of the longest running and most successful in CCF’s history.
Upon opening, the non-formal curriculum consisted of basic math, English and local language skills, taught alongside basic reading and writing skills to just the young boys of Attock, with the goal of preparing them for more formal studies in their future. “Our Attock school was one of the first initiatives for CCF in Pakistan. At the time, schooling was a novelty for these children. CCF’s Attock school not only provided education but also spread awareness in the Afghan community about the importance of learning for boys as well as girls,” says Aqeel Abbasi, Project Manager for CCF Pakistan.
Today, the school holds classes for continuing students, primer classes for new students and now numbers close to 200 hundred co-eds. While traditionally, girls have not been encouraged to attend school, especially in the small towns of Pakistan, the Attock school broke the mold in 1999. “We are proud to say that now Afghan families want their boys and girls to get education, and it is now common for our graduates to go on for higher education as well,” Abassi says.
The school has evolved its organizational abilities by being mindful of wage gaps, the gender makeup of its staff, and by delivering education that surpasses quantitative and qualitative standards. Teachers and the principal constantly work to involve the community in these children’s educations. Open discussions on quality of education, attendance and tardiness issues, extra-curricular activities and the organization of special events to celebrate holidays have caused the community to embrace the school and the goals of its teachers and administrators. In addition to providing a place to learn, the children and community also receive medical treatment at the school’s on-site clinic.
The presence of the Feizy-sponsored school has helped Attock combat child labor, providing hope for the future of local families and the town itself. Child Care Foundation’ mission is to attempt to open schools in areas such as Attock, where there is a large concentration of children that have no access to education. Often times, all they need is a sponsor. For Attock, Feizy Rugs was that sponsor, providing the funds necessary for books, uniforms, teachers’ salaries, building construction & maintenance, and the daily to-and-from transportation of the school’s students.
“Feizy Rugs’ commitment to this cause has been immense,” explains Abassi. “At a time when the world swept its eyes from the plight of these refugees, Feizy supported CCF and helped set up the school. Through their efforts, the school remained open and successful all these years, despite the ups and downs in the region. I am sure the next 20 years will be even more prosperous for CCF, our community and Feizy Rugs.”
For himself, Mr. Feizy see this project as a labor of love. “Our interest is in preventing child labor. So often these children are forced to work because they have no opportunities to be educated. We wanted to provide that education by opening the Attock school,” said Mr. Feizy. “All children deserve opportunities. When you see the smile of a child beam out at you from behind a desk rather than from behind a loom, the effort becomes worth the hard work. These children are the hope for this village’s future and with confidence and an education, one of them may just change the world one day.”