Celebrities have often lent their star power to a cause – from Bono‘s efforts to rally Americans to fight AIDS and global poverty to Angelina Jolie‘s work as UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador. In Pakistan, pop star Shehzad Roy established Zindagi Trust, a not-for-profit organization that aims to provide education for underprivileged children. The organization has established 29 operational schools throughout the country, educating over 2800 children. On Thursday, Dawn reported that Roy was recognized for his philanthropic work when he was awarded the 2009 Patricia Blunt Koldyke Fellowship on Social Entrepreneurship by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.
Dawn added in its coverage, “The music star is one of the youngest ever recipients of the Tamgha-i-Imtiaz, one of Pakistan’s highest civil honors, and he has also been awarded Pakistan’s highest humanitarian award, the Sitara-i-Eisaar. MTV Pakistan also recently gave him two awards for his music.” During his one week stay in Chicago this October, where he will exchange ideas with local civic, government, business, and academic leaders, Roy told Dawn he would “like to impress upon notable American educationists, politicians, reformists and media persons the need for the Pakistani government to be pushed to bring about reforms in schools, particularly by replacing outdated textbooks and updating curricula. He said he would appeal to foreign agencies for funds for these projects.”
According to the press release on the Chicago Council’s website, “Roy uses the proceeds from his hugely popular concerts to fund the work of the Zindagi Trust, which since 2002 has established vocational centers and health care clinics and has worked to improve Pakistan’s educational system. One of its first projects, ‘I am Paid to Learn’, provided child laborers nationwide with monetary compensation for attending school, an important initiative in a country where more than 10.5 million children under the age of 15 work menial jobs to support their families.”
So congratulations Shehzad Roy. You not only have addressed a very important issue in Pakistan through your work, but your dedication has been an inspiration to us all. Below is the pop star’s music video for “Qismat Apne Haath Mein,” [Destiny/fate is in your hands]: