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About Sister Zeph

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By Malee Kenworthy

January 2018

In March of 2015 I serendipitously met one of the most amazing and inspirational women of my life. She goes by Sister Zeph. Sister Zeph lives in Punjab, Pakistan where women and girls have historically been prevented from education because their place has long thought to have been in the home. Sister Zeph is changing all of that one life at time and despite being attacked and shot at a couple of times now. She is my inspiration because despite facing every kind of difficulty and circumstance she still gets up every morning and soldiers on.

When I met her three years ago I was following Malala on Facebook and I saw that Malala had shared Sister Zeph’s documentary on her page. I saw that Sister Zeph was commenting and messaged her immediately. I knew in my heart that she needed help, especially after seeing the video. To be honest I only watched half of the video at that time because it touched me so deeply and I was sad. It took me another year to finish watching that documentary. I quickly became close to Sister Zeph and some of the girls at her center and began teaching art classes to them over skype every weekend.

Exactly one year after meeting her I flew to Pakistan by myself just mere days after a suicide bomber killed himself and many others in Lahore, the city I was flying into. Before going over there it was a huge decision making process for me and Sister Zeph and I had to practically keep it a secret from everyone due to security issues. I planned the trip for months in advance and did a lot of research on Pakistan. When I was over there I learned a lot about the value of money and being grateful.

I remember one time I offered some money to her mother and sister for doing so much for me during my visit and they rejected it. I think that it is typical in America and western countries to offer money sometimes, especially if someone has been waiting on you hand and foot. It is typical, I have learned, in the east that “guest it king”. I was so humbled and touched on the third day of my visit about their hospitality that I cried. I also didn’t fully realize how bad the pollution and trash is over there until I was in it.

I got to experience firsthand just a taste of what Sister Zeph has to go through every day. In America it is easy for me to do things and even as a woman I do not give it a second thought. Over there Sister Zeph has to be think about every possible danger when she goes outside, not to mention that the pollution is so bad that it truly is difficult to breathe or sometimes even see the sky. She also has to have male accompaniment when going outside of the home and buying anything there is not as easy as it is in America. A person has to go to the market and deal with fluctuating prices and women have to deal with harassment. When I was there with her I got to experience how difficult simple things can be to accomplish and I marvel now at the fact that she has accomplished, almost single handedly, building the school, persuading people there to send their girls to her school, paying teachers’ salaries every month, dealing with harassments and threats, medical issues in the family and more.

Sister Zeph is truly an example to us all of what can be accomplished with determination, will power, vision, persistence and patience. Whenever I feel that I am struggling I think of her and realize how easy I have it where I am. She gives me the strength to keep marching on in my life. She has no choice but to be a warrior in her situation and that gives me strength even though I am on the other side of the planet. Through the relationships that women in the west forge with women in the east we will bridge a divide that exists in politics. This bridge of women’s empowerment will transform this world as we know it to be more equal and empowered and there is nothing that anyone can do to stop it. The time is now to continue connecting with one another and raising each other up and Sister Zeph shows me this every day through her actions and persistence in the face of opposition.

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Empowered Women are Power of all Women

Posted July 30, 2018 from Pakistan

Our people were nothing but just slaves for centuries, they had no say in anything, and they had to follow what they were being told by the foreigner rulers.

This slavery was not easy this was a mental and physical torture they fought to get rid of those rulers but one would go and other would replace them.

Our men could not accept this insult so they tried to find someone weaker than them to reduce their anger, to use their power on them, where there was no opposition, someone who could bear all the cruelty, beating, punishment for nothing and who could respect them by all means.

They went to home and saw their women, who would call them their Gods, who would bow in front of them, who loved them, who respected them, who would leave their parents and siblings for them and who would never complain.

Men thought these were their target, so they told themselves they are rulers of their women, they closed all doors of dreams, of success and of integrity for women, and they interpreted the religions according to their own choices and forced women to follow

Women became their slaves, who have no power on their lives, who have no choice and no authority.

Foreigner rulers have gone but mentality of men has not changed. They treat women the way they want. They have put this thought into their minds that only those women are good and pious who serve their men and follow their instructions.

If a woman tries to stand up for her rights they try to prove her as wrong and a bad woman, they keep other women away from her contact even they try to kill her and give this act a name of their Honor and this killing is called the ”honor killing” as a result women rarely dare to go against men’s will they keep themselves behind the walls and wait for their orders to act upon them and this becomes a mato of women’ lives they keep struggling all life to win a man’s heart and favor for their survival.

They have to depend on men for everything from going to doctor for medicine, to go out of home, to have food and shelter and clothes on their bodies and to be saved from other men. A woman has to suffer from all kinds of physical and mental violence of one man because they have made this belief that women cannot protect themselves and they cannot deal with men outside home without help of a man.

This is a reason a woman in Pakistan always desires to have more brothers, she gives preference to sons over daughters and she does not stop living with a violent man.

Because men want them to stay inside the houses and they have to follow men that’s why they do not get education, do not learn skills and for basic things of life they bear all kind of behaviors of men.

In Pakistan where I am working to raise the status of women through education and empowerment Women participation rate in labor force is only 28 per cent, which is particularly low in the urban areas. Household duties and lack of education are considered by more than 80 per cent Pakistani women as the major reasons for their non-participation in the labor force, said World Development Report 2013, issued by the World Bank.

In this scenario we cannot expect a good living standard for women in Pakistan

But we who have education and who know the situation of women we cannot sit back, we cannot keep silent we have to help our fellow sisters, we have to make them empowered by all means and we have to be stronger, smarter and more powerful than those men who are against women’s empowerment because they do not want to lose their slaves who are women

That’s why in Pakistan in 2012 we started a stitching center, a beauty salon training center, an IT center and English language learning class, we banned entrance of any man in this area completely so that men allow their women to come and learn from our center because they do not want any man apart from family to look at their women. In our center everything is designed by women, done by women, seen by women and learnt by women only.

But through internet we started giving knowledge and introduction of the world to our students as much as we could, from ocean to space, from beauty tips to politics, from household to boxing and self-defense techniques, from women’s rights awareness to menstrual hygiene and from kitchen gardening to climate change

Since 2012 400 women are taking these free trainings from Zeph center annually who become different human beings, empowered, full of knowledge, aware of their worth, abilities and powers after learning from us. Today all those women who have learnt from us are doing jobs and have own small business they are earning helping themselves and their families, they speak for their rights, they use their powers and convince their female friends to join our center to change their lives.

This is just a beginning of our journey we still have a very long way to go and cannot rest until each woman is financially empowered because empowered women are power of all women

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If she is a daughter and not a son does it mean she will not feel pain?

Posted June 30, 2018 from Pakistan

This is my 9 years old student Meerab who has to take care of her four younger siblings, she cooks food, gives them shower, cleans house, washes clothes and comes to school every day.

Her youngest sister is ½ year old and her mother is expecting another child in a few days she is giving birth to so many daughters because she wants to have another son but because her husband is a drug addicted and does not earn much therefor she has to work also to feed her children and Meerab who is the eldest among sisters has to do household along with coming to school for her studies with her younger sisters

As per Government’s instructions we sent our students on summer vacation in May and on last day of her school when she went home she was heating up lunch for her siblings when fire caught her clothes, parents go for work, younger sisters are too young to help so until neighbors came for help, her belly, one arm and back was burnt so bad.

Her parents kept her inside a room for a month where there was no light, no fan and no treatment they thought now she is useless therefor it is better for her to die or she will be burden for family all life, I could not come to know about it because she was not coming to school because of summer vacation but when last week someone told me and I went to her home I saw, blood and puss was coming out of her wounds, she was lying down completely silent and she was stinking so bad and her skin color was turned off white because of continues loss of blood, she very skinny, no proper treatment and very bad behavior by her parents, she told me’’ the pain was unbearable but when I would cry because of pain in night my father would rebuke me and would say be silent let us sleep so I learnt to bear my pain in silence which would make me faint after every half and hour’’

I requested her parents immediately to allow me to bring her to a hospital but they did not allow, I sent my mother but they refused, I sent some respectable people from the village but they denied then I went with my team and told them that they are killing their daughter and this is a case of murder so I will call the police if they will not let me bring her to a doctor after three days’ effort I was able to bring her to Lahore after two hours’ drive on each side from my city because there is no burn center in my own city but I did not have any money at home, so I went to a street where many women were sitting outside their homes I asked them how much money do you have? They lent me whatever they had altogether it was equal to $500 we left for Lahore but it was a big storm in Lahore that day several people died many were injured it was raining so fast and I and my sister were driving and running from one hospital to another unfortunately three big hospital denied to take her because she was almost died and no one wanted to take the responsibility, for four days I went from one hospital to another but no one took her, I was looking at her, there was no hope in her eyes she would get faint many times in the van I was crying for her I was finding no hope either but I thought I will not give up I will check each and every hospital but I will not let her die

Then  Malee kenworthy our development director spread the news on social media Farah ambassador(NCWUS) UN heard her story she used her links and contacted to a very famous doctor in Lahore who finally admitted her, Now she is getting treatment it will take her a month to be in hospital, her left arm which was stuck with her belly after getting burn, is now separated and will be fine soon, three units of blood were given to her immediately, we are giving her very good diet, like juices, meat, fruits and eggs etc so she can make more blood, her life is now out of danger, she is the most brave girl in the world, she wants to be a doctor and she does not want this happen to any other child what has happened to her. Her pain is beyond imagination, she is in hospital since four weeks but her father has not visited her even once, her mother visited twice for a few minutes and then went back home.

We will make her all wounds healed my all means but the pain what her parents’ behavior has given her I do not know if this will ever be able to healed, I do not know when our people will understand that if they have a daughter it does not mean she does not feel the pain.

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Christmas-2017 in Pakistan

Posted December 18, 2017 from Pakistan
At Zeph Education where we not only give formal education to our students but we teach them many skills along with self-defense techniques and English language we have over 206 students and just a few of them are Christians our goal is not only to educate girls but to bring religious harmony among people too because we belong to a culture where people live for religion and they die for religion and majority of people are still illiterate and those who have some education they are also victim of our education system which mostly make followers not thinkers

That’s why it is easy for extremist religious clerics to misguide people in the name of religion.

Just yesterday some of those misguided people have attacked on a Church in Quetta Pakistan they killed nine Christians while 56 are injured.

I saw that news on TV but it is not possible to see that whole news little girls wearing white frocks who were ready to play the role of angels on the stage so that they could celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ are injured, they are bleeding, they are holding shoppers full of flowers in their hands and are running ,they are crying, they saw dead bodied, people cut into pieces, ,meat of their dead bodied, cries all over the place and some of them lost their love once.

My students who are preparing for the Christmas celebration since two months, show this would be our 20th annual show and this time our children were going to give a message of non- violence through a drama, they were going to dance on Christian songs, we would give food and would decorate the whole area with lights as always.

All those who are going to perform in that show they are from age 4 to 20 years the voice of their laughter is a most beautiful sound of the world, they are making new dresses, they are excited that I will cook so much good food for them, I will give them Christmas gifts, their relatives and parents will clap on their performances and will appreciate them.

These are children who have to do child labor, they see violence and hunger in their houses every day, they see their mothers being beaten, and being humiliated every day, they have to suffer a lot to access to education, they have to suffer for basic things of life, they rarely get a chance to live a worry free day even during childhood.

But we try to give them an opportunity to have their say, to gain confidence in themselves, to speak to the society on our annual Christmas show

But I have just received a call from the Pastor of our Church that High ups of Police in Gujranwalahaveordered tocancelall the Christmas celebrationsfor the security reasons only 24th and 25th December’s prayers will be given security.

I know our Government is doing all that for our security, I believe that we Pakistani Christians are living in one of the best countries in the world where our government takes care of us a lot, our Army is the best army of the world who fights for all Pakistanis without any discrimination and truth is that if there were no security officials in that Church in Quetta Yesterday we would have seen a big number of causalities of Christians

I am still struggling to conduct the show on 24th instead of 23rd but one thing which is not leaving my mind is that if we do the show we might have to face the same consequences as Quetta Church had to face because according to authorities dozens of suicide bombers has left to attack during this week, but if we do not do the show ‘’ Will I teach my students to live in a fear, will I tell them that they have to be afraid even when they are doing rehearsal since two months to give a message of peace and what will I tell them, why are we cancelling the show? Because otherwise they can be killed, what if they will ask me for which crime they can be killed, what if they ask me what wrong they have done?

What if they will ask me? Is it wrong to walk on the path of peace?

I do not know how I will handle them, I do not know from where I will get this much courage to see their smiles turning into tears, to see their excitement turning into sorrow.

But I want to tell those terrorists who has tried to divide the nation of Pakistan on religious bases that

I am a Christian and I am Pakistan and we all Christians who live in Pakistan we are all Pakistan and we are proud to be Pakistanis, we were born from this soil and we will be buried in this land and they cannot make us apart from our homeland, from our beloved Country, we Love Pakistan and we live for Pakistan and can proudly die for Pakistan, we all Pakistanis are united against them and they cannot set us apart from each other as a Nation of Pakistan.

http://www.france24.com/en/20171217-deadly-attack-methodist-christian-church-southwest-pakistan-quetta

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Thanks to you my challenges without you I would not know my strengths

Posted October 24, 2017 from Pakistan
Each person has someone to be thankful for their support, love and care in the time when he/ she was feeling alone, saw no hope in life, wanted to give up, lost courage and found no reason to be alive.

I also met people in my life who played a vital role to make me what I am today, every day I feel so thankful for my life, I am living a very satisfied life, full of happiness because of all of them.

Every person who I met played a role I went to new horizons and met some new people they supported me and then new but there was someone who never left me alone, was always there to bring a new success for me, brought so many tears in my eyes but then when ever went on break made my life like a heaven on earth, I hate him, infect everyone on this earth hate him, but now I start missing him when he is not around for some time because if he is not there that mean a new success is not going to happen soon.

Therefor I am so much thankful to my challenge whenever he comes to my life I achieve something big.

I was three when my uncle beat and insulted mymother for giving birth to a fourth daughter and tried to kill me as I am a girl, I was a little girl but it made me cry so much I saw a lot of blood coming out of my mother’s head, we had to leave our house that same night.

But because of that difficult time we left the city of my grandparents therefor we were saved fromchild marriage, honor killing and we got a chance to get education, my father is an only man among his brothers who loves daughters and gives them their rights, if we would have been with them I would not be the same person as I am today, Thanks to that difficult time of my life.

I was a little girlwhen my father got injured in an accident, all was changed in our lives, there was no food, no new cloths, noprotection and respect in the society as we became so poor, my mother’s brothers forced us to leave their house, we had to live in theChurch for two years. My mother would do dish washing in houses of rich people, would buy medicine for my father and would feed us.

Without Knowledge of my parents I learnt work of embroidery and started doing work as a child laborer to help my mother then my other sisters also joined me, My mother and all of us worked so hard and bought some land in another village,

Thanks to that difficult time because of it we had our own house, here no one can ask us to leave from here because this house is our own.

I was 13 when my teacherinsulted me and beat me and for the first time I realized the importance to stop violence against children and to give them education with love, care and respect.

That day I changed my identity, my thoughts, my goals and started teaching little girls in the courtyard of my house, I started looking at every girl as my younger sister and made them feel that they can trust me because I love them and I started educating girls, who made me their Sister Zeph

Thanks to that difficult time due to which I came to know the reason of my life on this earth.

In 2006 I was celebrating Christmas with my family in our house when gunmen came and starting firing in our house, they were shouting and threating, inside the house I was thinking of my students and was great full that those gunmen did not come in presence of students, thanks to my brother-in-law because of whose wisdom and courage we were able to escape from this situation.

At that time I realized that I have to do a better job from where I willget better salary so that I would have enough money to take a school on rent and my students would not have to sit in open class room which could be dangerous for their safety

Thanks to that difficult time after that I never stopped getting education for myself and found a job as a guested officer in a biggest telecom Company of Pakistan although it took me years but I did it.

It was very difficult for me to manage the time because after doing 8 hours work six days a week it would take me one hour to reach to my evening school, my school is my life and without salary it was not possibleto run the school therefor it was essential to do a job and to teach both at a time as there was nofinancial support until then for the school but only my salary.

During those days a new supervisor joined the office and he started harassing me sexually, I could not leave my job, I had no other source of income, it was a big challenge to go to office and to spend 8 hours there every day, one day he emailed me photos of necked women this was a time when I decided to take an action, I forwarded that email to the General Manager of the company and demanded to give him punishment, after knowing this action he gave me threats, I again wrote to HR and I was transferred to the office which was very close to my house, a jury was made to investigate the case this time all-female colleagues stood with me who never spoke against him before and he was fired from his job.

Thanks to that difficult time due to which I was able to get justice for those female colleagues who were facing sexual harassment but could not speak for years and I was posted near to my home where I had enough time to teach my students.

In2013 one morning I was going to my office when two men, on motorbike, wearing black helmets stopped me on my way to office, they slapped on my face so hard and said stop doing what you are doing or you will have to face us, I heard that, went to my office, cried in bath room for a while because of insult, came to my seat and started doing my work.

This incident made me realize that my work was making a big impact that even those who are living in a deep darkness, they had to come out to stop me.

After one week that incident some men came to my house, use very abusive language, made my mother and sister injured and went away, when I was coming home from office, they beat me so much, left me fainted on street ( they are from my own village and I know them), I went to police and when police came men ran from their houses by leaving their women alone, police men made their women hostage and announced that they will not leave women until men come and surrender, I went to the police officer in that house and requested him to release the women , he did not do it then I called to the Superintended of Police and said ‘’ stop using women to prove yourself strong and release them right now’’

In that year I joined World Pulse, wrote my story, won World Pulse Lynn Sym Global prize, got international attention and not only received a big prize money but so many friends donate us too.

We bought some land, made a beautiful, small but a safe building, installed security cameras, hired security guards, Channel news Asia made a documentary on my life ‘’ flight of the falcons’’ this film won a Gold medal from New York film festivals, through world Pulse my story was published on big media outlets I got an opportunity to visit Europe and South Korea to take leadership trainings and I was given a great opportunity to speak at Emerging women lives Conference and this was a beginning of my journey to make a bigger impact, to change more lives, to be heard and to become a global leader from a grassroots leader

challenges and difficulties do not come in my life to break me but to make me realize and to proofthat nothing is stronger than a determined woman

This post was submitted in response to I Am Thankful for You Because….
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Sister Zeph an Education Activist from Pakistan

Posted October 8, 2017 from Pakistan
In the region of Pakistan women are victims of men since ancient time, its basic reason is cultural and religious beliefs, all those things which men do with pride are considered sin and unforgiveable crimes if women do it, like love marriage, going out of home alone, getting education, to be bold, to have dreams or to choose a career etc.

A woman never knows who will be her life partner, what will be his age, how he will treat her, he will have wives before or not

After getting married she cannot go to her parent’s house without permission of her husband. Her in- laws beat her, insult her, abuse her and she has to have unwanted sex with her husband.

Sexually frustrated men who treat women bad outside home they keep own women inside the house in strict restrictions because they are afraid that same will happen to their family’s women, as a result women cannot have access to education, health facilities and career opportunities, they become so weak to depend on men for everything and men treat them as their masters and owners, they write women ‘fortune, dreams and life.

Therefore I have devoted my life to raise the status of women through education and empowerment At Zeph center we are giving all these services free of charge.

Twelve years free Education and below given skills

  1. Stitching course
  2. Hair dressing
  3. Party make up
  4. Bridle make up
  5. IT Courses
  6. English language course
  7. Library
  8. Self-defense techniques
  9. Women’s health
  10. Blogging
  11. Financial management
  12. Art
  13. Peace Building

To know more about my work and impact

Please visit

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/zephaniahfreeacademy/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/zephaniah857?lang=en

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Peace has to be Everywhere or it will be Nowhere

Posted August 22, 2017 from Pakistan
This is 22- August-2017, Malee Kenworthy my American friend and Development director of Zephaniah Women education and empowerment Foundation has sent me a link, in which US President Mr Donald Trump says that they cannot be silent anymore about safe heavens of terrorists in Pakistan, He might send troops to Pakistan soon.

I teach at Zeph center ten hours a day and it does not make me tired or angry infect I love to be among my students, their interest in learning, their laughters, their involvement in studies and skills, their changed and positive thoughts give me new energy every day to do more for them.

Today in our English language learning class we were discussing on play grounds , one of the new girls said ‘’ is this sentence correct if I say that Sachin Tandulkar( Indian Cricket Start) is crying on his team’s defeat from Pakistani Cricket Team and I am happy to see him crying ?

But another girl spoke up loud and said listen to me Anam we are Zeph Girls we are peace makers we should not even talk which has even a slight hate for other nations, we should always talk about love for each other no matter where someone is, we are born to give hope so let us talk about hope, let us make all sentences which have love and respect for everybody on this earth.

I did appreciate her a lot and I felt proud to be their teacher, it took me so many years, my childhood and youth was spent to achieve this task but I have done it finally.

I had to face a lot of problems, every day I would have to face threats, People would make stories about me, they would do propaganda against me, they tried to kill me twice, they would slap on my face and would harass me whenever I would go out of home, they would through pieces of bricks on my students butInever stopped, as much they created problems for me that much I used my power to push them away and to make my own way to achieve my goal of teaching and empowering girls in Pakistan.

Because whenever they tried to stop me I realized that there is more need of light, the light of hope, education, and women empowerment, so I would put more energy to transform their darkness into light and I did it.

Many years before when I took this initiative I was alone and there were many who would feel proud in killing me.

Now although I have bigger threats because now I am more famous but I am not alone, now all those voices are there to speak for me, to whom I gave a voice through pens, their hearts beat with me to whom I gave light for a brighter future though books, their eyes cry for me to whom I gave my time.

Those are my students who are now successful, educated and empowered women and all that happened because I did not shout on themwho shouted on me, I did not try to kill them who tried to kill me and my family.

I do not deny about bad people in Pakistan but if all Pakistanis were bad then why I am alive till today? we Pakistanis are not terrorists only a group of People are doing this horrible thing but what about my girls who love the whole world, who just want to get education, who call themselves Doctors of the society( Peace Makers)what about those who want peace and who have never hurt anyone, what about those who love Americans for their good deeds? Will Mr President create so many problems for all those people too who are not terrorists?

If I a woman who belongs to a Minority of Pakistan, who also faced so many problems but still changed thoughts of hundreds and thousands, why not you Mr President why not you ? How can you bring peace though guns and bombs? How? Hate will only multiply the hate and love will only multiply the love I have proved it through twenty years of my life as a Christian education activist in Pakistan.

Bombs and guns cannot differentiate between good and bad people but we human beings can do this.

Peace is not a property of any one, no one can make the peace their prisoner by using force, Peace is universal it has to be everywhereor it will be nowhere.

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Girls also get Hungry

Posted August 8, 2017 from Pakistan
At Zeph Center center we are not only giving free education but we teach many types of skills to women so that they can earn by doing work and can support their families.

At age of thirteen when I took this initiative there was no financial support from anywhere, my mother was a laborer and my father was on bed after an accident so to run my free school I had to start doing a job for 8 hours a day and six days a week at age of 15, which I kept doing until May-2017.

Since I have left my job I spend ten hours a day at Zeph center, I not only see all the management things but I spend time with girls and teach them.

I love our little girls, when they play in the center and run from here to there I feel like they are butter flies, their laughter gives a new life to the center I can see from their faces that they do not have any fear of anything in my presence because they know their spiritual mother is there who wants to see them happy and educated.

So although sometimes we have to do some meeting on serious matters but we never bother them while they are playing, they have really cute and have strange duties for me, when I came back from South Korea in July 2017 after completing my Leadership Training from EWHA Women University, they called me near to them and commanded ‘’ Sister Zeph we do not like our teachers, they are not good they want us to study but we like to pay all the time, plz fire them from their jobs rights now’’. When they get angry with each other they come to me and say’’ Sister Zeph that friend of mine is not talking to me’’ so I have to convince angry friend to be friend again which does not take more than a few second because they forget about their fights immediately and start playing together again, I sing with them, I dance with them and I play with them.

While talking, walking, eating even while sleeping in my dreams I make plans and think of their future.

I love to take photos with them and especially when they are doing something, I want to capture every moment of their lives which they spend at Zeph Center.

Most of them are unwanted children because their parents wanted to try to have a son but those girls took birth in their house.

Today I saw one four years old girl, she was sitting silent, she was holding a book, I wanted to take her photo, when I asked her that I want to make a photo of her, she was trying to make a pose which could hide her tear off pant, her pant was tear off from many places, also shirt, she was wearing a stuff which is unbearable to wear in such a hot day of summer, I looked at her face , she was looking week and sick I asked why are you looking sad my child, are you hungry, did you eat something and she said No.

I went to my house brought food for her and she ate it all so quickly now she not hungry any more.

But I went on our roof, sat in a corner and I cried because I can feel what it means to be hungry, I went to same situation when my father got injured and my mother had no skill nor education to have a source of income to feed us, I can feel the pain of being hungry, she was in the center since four hours and I could not realize she was hungry, I could feel how she would have been feeling without food, she was holding a book but how could she study without eating food and without wearing comfortable cloths.

They are seven sisters and two brothers, father is a laborer and has three children from his second wife too, and this little girl was produced in desire to have a son so now she does not have even enough food and cloths because she is a girl.

But I have one question since then in my mind that what is more important food or education? Can she focus of studies while she is starving? For how long will girls be treated like this because they were not born as boys?

When parents will understand, Girls also need food, Girls also get hungry ?

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My father my Hero

Posted May 30, 2017 from Pakistan
I am on 3rd number among four sisters, I was three years old when my youngest sister Ashi took birth, she was one day old when my uncle ( my father’s younger brother) came in and started beating my mother, he pulled her hair and threw something heavy in her head, it started bleeding, her blood was reaching to her legs, foot and then floor of the room no one stepped in to control him he was beating her badly still and she was not even crying as she already knew it would happen for she gave birth to the 4th daughter but my one day old sister was crying a lot, my mother was trying to reach to her so that she could feed her and would stop her from crying but she was failed, then he took me in his hands and ran towards roof of our house he wanted to throw me down because now we were four sisters and he wanted us to die, according to him we were a burden on the family.

But then my father ran towards him (who just entered in the house) and shouted at my uncle and asked him to stop right there, in this way I was safe, he brought my mother to the doctor, we stayed for a night in his friend’s home then other day he sent us all back to my mother’s parents ‘house for our safety.

After few days he also came by leaving his parents and brothers and started living with us, it was almost 28 years before since then he never went back there.

Then he told my mother that they will not produce any more children in expectation of a son but they will give brought up to their daughters like sons.

I was about five years old when he taught me to read newspaper, to listen news on TV, watch cricket match and to improve my English speaking by watching BBC and CNN.

He would say, by watching films and dramas you will waist so much time but by watching these things what I say you will increase your knowledge and it will shape your future.

He was right, today even those women take lessons from me who had been university students and I have never been to a school after 7th standard because I have knowledge of history, present and he taught me even to smell the future of our world

When I decided to leave my school because of being discriminated there, he taught me one thing he said, if you will hate those who hate you, you will increase hate but if you love those who hate you, you will multiply the love.

He was the first person on this earth who understood me and allowed me to open my own school in courtyard of our house when I was just 13 years old although everybody else made fun of me.

In 2006 when gunmen attacked on my house, we were told by policemen to leave our village for our security but he was the one who came back with me, started the school again with me and brought back my mother and other sisters and convinced them to visit with me door to door to recruit the students again.

About 25 years before in an accident he got injured badly and could not do any work after that but even today he arranges water for my students, from his own money he buys candies and fruits for them. He sits in the street during the school hours to have an eye on any suspicious thing or person, when in 2013 some people attacked on my house he was the only man in the whole village who tackled with them and still when I reached to home from my office and came to know about the incident he said to me, You will not stop doing your work, Our Government cannot solve all problems alone from our country but we common people have to take a stand with our government.

They (who give threats or attack) cannot do anything bad to you they are cowardsactually they are afraid of you because you are educating girls.

Today only one sister of my mother and her family and one nephew of my mother with his family like to meet us, all other relatives have boycotted us, no one likes to meet or to talk to us because they think my father has given extra freedom to his daughters, people give me threats, make stories about me, they attack on me, they think I am extra bold, they think I am a threat for the Christian community as I teach to Muslim girls because my 99% students are Muslims but still my father says keep going sister Zeph you are the only hope, you are a candle who has to enlighten all lives in this country through education and empowerment, never give up I am with you.

In a world where girls have no right to have their own identity my father allowed me to choose the life of my choice.

My father is an example for our world because if all fathers will be like him all girls will be like me who will be able to take bold steps, who will be courageous and who will have a potential to face all kind of circumstances to achieve their goals and who will change lives of other women in their surroundings.

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Art is Ending Discrimination in Pakistan

Posted April 27, 2017 from Pakistan
I am very proud to be a Pakistani because Pakistani people are full of talent and courage. They have proved themselves in every field of life because we are hardworking and innovative. There is a saying in Pakistan that for a Pakistani nothing is impossible because we are, (Jugadu Qaum ), we have an ability to find a solution for every problem.

But still we are hundreds of years behind the developing world in progress. We are divided in groups and each group of people has their own thoughts and ideas. There are people who want others to follow their own ideologies at any cost. The reason of these mindsets is discrimination. The discrimination comes in the form of religious, color, cast, financial status, height, figure, structure, age, features and residential area.

I am a Christian, so when some girls join our center initially they do not drink water from my house. They do not like to sit with poor, dark skinned people and girls of other religions. This becomes a cause of hate for each other, no support, no love, no care, back biting, propaganda, blame game, feeling of superiority and inferiority complex and many other problems in the society. This happens everywhere and we can see its results on every platform in our country.

Our politicians never can agree on one thing no matter how important any matter is. Our religious clerics always try to prove that others are wrong. We can see this among children in schools and women in the houses and villages. We are suffering from terrorism and so many problems.

At Zeph education we have started overcoming this issue through art. Malee Kenworthy, who started following me from Malala Fund on social media two years ago, is a very good artist. So in 2015 she started teaching art to Zeph girls. She would give them art lessons for two hours every weekend. We have agreed on one thing that we will never talk about religion in the class and this is what we have done because talking about religion can hurt someone’s feelings.

By the time girls showed a lot of interest in painting they started expressing themselves through art. They learned from Malee how she was spending time. Every week she finds new lesson for them which is always more interesting than the one before. The girls and Malee became very good friends. Girls were not only learning to draw and paint but their thinking was also changing. They were becoming broad minded, they learned to work in team, they were not only learning about paint colors but they started to respect different colors of human beings and life. They would ask her all kinds of questions. There was no discrimination from the students after learning and taking lessons from Malee.

Then Malee visited Pakistan and they painted beautiful and colorful paintings, with her they worked together for seven hours in a day. They welcomed her like a queen. They prepared to welcome her for many days before she arrived. There was no discrimination on any base. All of them worked together.

One girl who learned art from her she started teaching art to the children in her own neighborhood who are just children. The children’s background, religion and status is not being asked before getting admission in Ayesha’s ( Malee’s student) art school.

Today when I read a story on world pulse called “I Wish My Mother Had Taught Me about Sex” by our global sister Iyamail, It really touched my heart. I thought my girls should also know about it, if their mothers cannot tell them, because talking about sex to teenage girls is like a sin in my culture, then I thought to tell them about it to save their future. So that they do not get into trouble because of lack of awareness, at this time those girls who have been learning art have said yes we should learn about it. Because art has given them wisdom to accept all the realities of life, see all colors of the world and to make a difference without any discrimination.

Art is a most beautiful way to make a change, to bring peace and to end discrimination.