Education, Solidarity, and Support in the Time of the Coronavirus

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Jun 29, 2020
by Salam Dharejo
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Education, Solidarity, and Support in the Time of the Coronavirus

Salzburg Global Fellow Salam Dharejo, taking part in the Asia Peace Innovators Forum, outlines the work of the Lyari’s Girls Café in Karachi, Pakistan, during a lockdown Members of Lyari's Girls Cafe working in the digital lab (Photo supplied by Salam Dharejo)

Regular visitors to Lyari’s Girls CafĂ© are currently confined to their homes and have lost the opportunity to get together. To reduce the isolation and utilize time productively, the girls have continued learning through the use of digital technology. 

Virtual learning started with GoToMeeting. A series of classes on citizen journalism, language learning, and beautician craft are taking place every day, attended by more than 70 girls.

Besides connecting through GoToMeeting, more than 700 girls connect through different WhatsApp groups created by their different subject trainers. Meanwhile, coronavirus updates, produced by citizen journalists from Lyari’s Girls CafĂ©, regularly circulate.  

Shazia Ishaque, who runs a school at the CafĂ© for the street children, was shocked to know her students were starving at home because of the lockdown, and their parents were not in a position to feed them adequately. Hence, Shazia helplessly shared the story with the group at the Girls CafĂ© and asked them to come up with support to help the children. The group decided to seek help from Girls CafĂ© alumni. When Shazia discussed the situation with her colleagues, she learned there were many other girls at the CafĂ© also going through difficult circumstances. There was not enough food in their homes.  

The group took advantage of digital technology, connected with all members of Girls Café, and stood up to raise money from members to support families of colleagues in need. They started developing an online list of families. More than a hundred people reported a food crisis and a lack of necessary items at home. The girls contributed donations and raised €300 to support their colleagues. Boy members of the Girls Café used their links to arrange two weeks of food for 50 families and supplied the provisions with support from girls at people’s doorsteps.

The solidarity mission is not over. The donation campaign goes on, and the girls are planning to support more vulnerable families of colleagues in the time of Ramadam and make their Eid happy. The Girls Café, which empowered the girls with skills and helps them to unite, has now become a center point of solidarity and hope. These actions have mobilized hundreds of girls to come forward. The girls are making the best use of digital technology and have been able to bring back smiles on the faces of depressed families in the time of the coronavirus.


Salam Dharejo is a Salzburg Global Fellow, who is currently taking part in the Asia Peace Innovators Forum, a program held in partnership with the Nippon Foundation. Sign up for our newsletter here to receive updates about this program.