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Ramadan 2018: Ahtesham’s Story

It’s hard to imagine the fear that Ahtesham felt when the ground started trembling beneath him. As the earthquake suddenly shook the foundations of his classroom, he ran for his life. As Ahtesham passed through the nearest doorway, the wall fell on top of him, burying him under a mountain of bricks while the rest of his class desperately stumbled over him.

The next thing Ahtesham remembers is waking up in a hospital bed in Islamabad. His injuries were so severe he had to spend the next year in hospital to recover. When he finally made it back home, he found nothing was as it had been before the devastating tremors.

All the government schools had crumbled to the ground and Ahtesham feared he’d never get an education – something he valued so much before his whole world had come tumbling down around him.

Alhamdulillah, he found hope amidst the despair in the form of READ Foundation. Within weeks of the horrific earthquake, READ were there to ensure the children affected wouldn’t miss out on their vital education. Just when the children felt afraid and like nothing would ever be the same again, READ Foundation staff set to work in emergency tents and did whatever they could to give the children a sense of normality.

When Ahtesham arrived at a READ Foundation school, he was still very poorly indeed. He had a hole in his stomach which he had to protect by holding a towel to his wound. Having experienced such trauma and having missed a whole year of school, his confidence was almost non-existent.

READ Foundation staff knew that Ahtesham needed a lot of physical, emotional and educational support and they were determined to help him succeed. Gradually, they built him up until he finally believed in himself.

Ahtesham says, “READ Foundation gave me counselling and love. They supported me when I was in a terrible state and allowed me to continue with my studies when I wasn’t fully healed so that I wouldn’t waste any more years of my life. They made me feel part of their family and I know it’s thanks to their hard work and belief in me that I have been able to achieve my dream.”

After everything he had been through, Ahtesham knew what he wanted to do with his life. He wanted to become a civil engineer so he’d be able to design buildings that would be safe and would never collapse on top of children if another earthquake should occur.

With the right support, Ahtesham overcame all the trauma he had been through, passed his exams and went on to study civil engineering at university – Masha-Allah.

To him, the cap he wore at graduation may as well have been a crown. It was symbolic of how far he had come and all he had achieved. He felt like royalty!

After graduating, Ahtesham qualified as a planning officer and now has oversight of every building project within the region. No building proposal gets Ahtesham’s approval unless he is 100% sure of its safety.

And nothing gives Ahtesham a greater sense of pride than when he approves the construction of another READ Foundation school.

“I am proof that getting an education can change your life forever so I appeal to you to support READ Foundation and sponsor an orphan. Your generosity will give a ray of hope to a child in desperate need. You’ll allow a small weak plant to grow into a large strong tree which may well go on to play a leading role in their community, region or even nation. Thank you.”

During Ramadan 2018 we want to encourage our supporters to sponsor an orphan. Your sponsorship can help children realise their dream of getting the education they deserve. Please, sponsor an orphan or learn more about the project here.

  • zohaib gilani

    No doubt, Shami is a real inspiration. I am an eye witness of what happend to him on October 8th, 2005 and all his journey from that day to this day 🙂 May ALLAH ALMIGHT bless him always

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