My First School by Andrea Francolini


Travel,Pakistan

“My First School” is dedicated to the children of Pakistan and their common desire for proper schooling, and also to the people around the world who have supported the project.

Without you all, My First School would not exist, and the help we provide to children in northern Pakistan would not happen.

The number of children attending school in the area of Gilgit-Baltistan (northern Pakistan) is increasing. More surprising, and more pleasing is that more and more girls are also able to attend school and in some establishments the ratio of girls to boys is just over 50 percent. This is an important statistic which should be applauded and celebrated.

I first conceived the idea for the My First School project in 2009, and since then my guide and my friend, Saeed, has worked with me every year and is integral to its success. Each year, before I land in Islamabad, Saeed has done all of the groundwork and administration, saving us valuable time. This means that as soon as I arrive on location, we can begin our journey up north and start working together with the local schools and communities that need our support.

Since we began the project, we’ve achieved some really wonderful milestones – from supplying basic building materials, to electrical work and plumbing, and even building desks and chairs for classrooms, to actual construction of four new classrooms in three different communities, each year we try to try help more schools in the area so that they can provide a better learning environment for the children.

We have also just started a sponsorship program which means that three students (two girls and one boy) have been supported with a five year scholarship so that they can attend class in their local villages. These children are aged between about four to six years old – there are no official documents proving their age – and come from very poor family backgrounds. In one case, the family has lost their father so the household has no form of income.

Each year when I return, I am fortunate to see the enthusiasm of the children when a tractor pulls up with new furniture for their school, and experience the involvement of the local community in helping set up the equipment we bring. The usual embraces and endless cups of tea show the gratitude of the people, and is always overwhelming. Experiencing this hospitality and warmth from Pakistani families reminds me of how little some people have, and yet altogether so often those who have less are those who give more. It’s incredibly moving and humbling. [Official Website]

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