By PARVEEN AHMED
Almost ten years ago after the devastating death of their dear daughter; the devoted parents, family and friends of Halimah Ahmed, set up the Halimah Trust, a non-profit-making organisation which built a school in Pakistan. In 2008, the Trust opened the Halimah School of Excellence in Wazirabad, in the Punjab, 100km from Lahore, for orphaned girls and vulnerable women. But as the school grows, more and more women are excelling in their studies and are ready for further education and university. The land for the school was kindly donated by a local farmer. There is still enough land for a college building, the cost of which is £347,000.
Halimah’s mother, Dr Zareen Roohi Ahmed from Derby, told the Asian Standard: “The school takes in orphan girls aged 3 and 4, all the way up to 18. Many were orphaned from the Kashmir earthquake of 2005. Our promise to them is that we will be there for them as long as they need us. We would pay for their wedding if need be.”
The school has been a great success but now space for all the pupils is running out fast in the current building, so the organisers want to expand. Zareen Ahmed said: “Now orphans from all areas of Pakistan want to go to the school.” She added: "to maintain the excellent standard of education and progress for these young women, we need to build a college next to the school. We first opened the school in 2011, but the girls are now at an age where they need to do further education.”
Zareen Ahmed has been amazed at how the young orphans have seized upon the opportunity to gain a good education: “They are ambitious, they want to be doctors, lawyers, leaders”, she said “and these are just girls from poor homes.”
On such pupil is 16-year-old Rabia Nisar. She is studying pre-engineering subjects at The Halimah School of Excellence. She declared: “when I am a successful engineer, I will then donate to this school to help other girls like me."
The desire to help teenage orphans into further education sadly coincides with the same age Halimah was when she died.
19-year-old Halimah had only attended university for six weeks when she was killed. She planned to work for an international charity after graduation. Her mother said: “Our daughter loved Pakistan. All she wanted to do was charitable work around the world”.
The teenager was murdered by failed asylum-seeker Khalid Peshawan in November 2007, who then killed himself. Subsequent investigations uncovered that orders to section mentally-ill Khalid Peshawan and not been acted upon. He was receiving mental health treatment for depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Zareen Ahmed said of her daughter’s killer: “The system failed him. His state of mind was a direct result of the war in Iraq. He’d been arrested repeatedly and had told authorities he was afraid he’d harm someone. We think our kids are safe, but they are some people with serious mental health issues on the streets.”
She is highly critical of cuts in money for mental health patients, and told the Asian Standard: “because of the many cuts mental health workers cannot handle their caseloads.”
Zareen Ahmed is extremely thankful for the support of the people of Derby, from people of all faiths, ethnicities and backgrounds with over three quarters of donations from non-Muslims. The largest donation so far was from Bulgarian entrepreneur Dr Rujua Ignatova who donated 50,000 Euros (£38,000) for the new college. Zareen Ahmed has also praised the kindness of local people: "When we set out to build the Halimah School of Excellence back in 2008, we were overwhelmed by the generosity and compassion the people of Derby showed us.”
A fundraising gala dinner will be held on Sunday, May 14 2017 at the Anoki restaurant on London Road, Derby. Restaurant owner Naveed Khaliq has generously donated the venue and food free of charge.
To donate to The Halimah School of Excellence visit www.halimahtrust.org.ukRead more
Tributes pour in as dead body of missing businessman found in the boot of his own car in Birmingham.
Music shop owner, Tanveer Iqbal had been missing since Sunday evening after closing his shop, Hi-Tech Music in Birmingham.
Following urgent police enquiries, the 33-year-old was found dead on Monday afternoon in the boot of his Renault Clio.
The car was parked on a residential road in Edgbaston, less than a mile away from Mr Iqbal’s shop.
His death is being treated as suspicious but West Midlands Police have not announced a cause.
Detective Inspector Paul Joyce is leading the investigation, said: “We’re working around the clock to try and piece together events leading up to this man’s death.
“If anyone has any information which they think may assist me with this investigation, I would urge them to get in touch as soon as they can.
“I am particularly keen to speak to any witnesses who may have seen Mr Iqbal between closing his shop in Smethwick on Sunday night and the time he was discovered at lunchtime on Monday.”
Portland Road remained closed as forensic examinations continued today and the vehicle has been removed from the scene.
Mr Iqbal’s family is being supported by specially trained officers and a post-mortem was due to take place this afternoon.
Anyone with information is asked to call police on 101 or the independent charity, Crimestoppers, on 0800 555 111.