At first glance the Dream Foundation appears to be working towards what a number of non-profits and non-government organisations in Pakistan are: ensuring children across Pakistan have unfettered access to quality education. DFT began in Moach Goth, located outside Karachi where its founder, Humaira Bachal, reacting to the lack of opportunities she faced, registered an organisation to work on quality education for underprivileged children.
The community at Moach Goth are predominantly day wage earners at nearby factories and mills, and faces a number of issues including lack of education, healthcare services, stable unemployment, water & sewerage, electricity and poverty. What makes DFT different is the holistic approach to achieving sustainability for the school. DFT does this by establishing a number of subsidiary organisations/initiatives around the school, which create a stable education ‘supply chain’, build community support for education, and put this support into practise at a number of societal levels, achieving what so many organisations struggle to do: a change in attitude to sustain the addition of a community school.
The Home School Literacy programme is one of these satellite initiatives that teaches mothers of children about the human rights children and women are entitled to, and basic concepts of gender equality so that children within a family are treated equitably at home. The Computer Literacy Programme teaches basic computer skills to the community allowing them to gain employment. The Skills Development Centre for Women was established to train women in the community skills in sewing, embroidery and thread work to help them supplement household incomes. The centre has helped 200 women fine tune these skills and each earns PKR 5-10,000 a month.
By generating awareness and value for education among parents and the community at large, DFT is creating an environment for change to move the community school away from the current uniform subsidy model to a scholarship need-based subsidized education model, achieving sustainability for the school. For instance, if someone can afford 50% of the cost of education they will be charged that amount and the rest will be covered by other streams of income, including a ring-fenced or endowment fund.