The 500 for 500 Appeal aims to invite and engage 500 women from the UK to join hands with 500 women in the Northern areas of Pakistan, through the foundation’s award-winning Plan Bee project. The campaign was launched on the evening with the introduction of the campaign’s first set of ambassadors, which include: Adeeba Malik, Deputy Chief Executive of leading national development agency, QED-UK; model and TV presenter Gulzaeb Beg; the UK’s youngest Muslim female Councillor, Rabia Bhatti; top fashion designer Raishma Islam; Dr Shaheena Janjuha-Jivraj, a Director of the International Centre for Entrepreneurship and Enterprise, broadcaster and presenter Yasmeen Khan and leading make-up artist Zaynab Mirza.
Plan Bee, which won the BBC World Challenge in 2008, is Hashoo’s innovative project that provides women in the Northern region of Pakistan with the opportunity to become beekeepers. It is based on a system of social barter, designed to promote social change, whereby Hashoo Foundation agrees to provide hives, training and then to link them to the lucrative markets in Pakistan, provided that the families agree to send their children to quality schools, have regular health check-ups and improve nutrition at home.
On introducing the campaign, Sarah Hashwani said: “We started work on this initiative a few weeks back and I have been amazed, delighted and touched by the level of support that UK women have already given to the idea. We have women from all walks of life coming forward to lend their support and use their networks to engage more women. The simplest proposition can change the lives of so many in Pakistan.”
Leading make-up artist and entrepreneur Zaynab Mirza, one of the appeal’s very first ambassadors said of the initiative: “After having read about all the fantastic work they are already doing in Pakistan. It is a privilege to get involved with the Hashoo Foundation. Empowering Women is a cause close to my heart. Surviving in Pakistan is not easy for anyone that is under-privileged, being an under privileged Woman trying to survive is even harder. Providing these women with a support network and the means to not only better their lives but also those of their future generations especially young girls, deserves all the support we can give. We sometimes forget that most of these people want ‘trade’ and not ‘aid’ to help them along. I am looking forward to becoming an Ambassador for ‘The 500 for 500 Appeal’ and hope I can play a small part in helping to empower and change the lives of these women.”
Also attending the event was a young woman from the Northern areas of Pakistan, Jamila, who has directly benefitted from Plan Bee. She told her story and direct experience of the Plan Bee project to guests saying: “Plan Bee has allowed me to not only turn my life around, but to also ensure that my three children have a better future ahead of them. They are healthy, able to go to a quality school and will hopefully lead a rewarding life. Four years ago, I couldn’t have dreamed of this happening. With the help of women here in the UK, more women like me can take control of their lives and their destiny.”
The Hashoo Foundation is a dynamic and progressive non-profit organisation which was set up by one of Pakistan’s most prominent families – the Hashwani’s in 1988. The Foundation’s vision is to help create an ethical and inclusive society in which people live with dignity and have power over their own lives.
The evening was opened with an address by Mr Sadruddin Hashwani in his role as Patron-in-Chief of the Foundation, in which he thanked and praised guests for their support and commitment to the work of the Foundation across the world.
Guest of Honour at the event, His Excellency, Sir Mark Lyall Grant, the UK’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations closed the evening with a heart-warming speech that highlighted the positive impact and value that must be placed on the work of NGOs in the developing world. He felt that a strong and vibrant organisation such as Hashoo Foundation has to be a welcome addition to the development fraternity. He also acknowledged that addressing issues around the empowerment of women were absolutely critical, saying: “This looks like a remarkable initiative. It will undoubtedly make a huge difference: not only to the lives of 500 women in Pakistan, but also to their families. If one applies the UN’s standard definition of a Pakistani household, you are immediately talking of changing the lives of more than THREE AND A HALF THOUSAND PAKISTANIS.”
The evening also included an exhibition of photographs and the first screening of a special documentary film created by award-winning film-maker Romaine Lancaster.
To find out more about the 500 for 500 Appeal and to get involved log on to www.hashoofoundation.org