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Shaniera Akram empowering the underprivileged, one bike at a time

October 9, 2019
 
Shaniera Akram empowering the underprivileged, one bike at a time

Shaniera Akram is working very hard to bring a change in Pakistan. Whether it be by raising awareness towards the horrific condition of Karachi’s Clifton beach, or going to the rural areas of Punjab and Sindh to help the needy.

She distributed over 450 bicycles and helmets to teachers, nurses, schoolchildren, and others who don’t have the means to even catch a bus to school.

On Wednesday, she took to her Twitter to post about the bike distribution programme.

SAMAA Digital reached out to Shaniera to ask about her struggles during the project.

“We have distributed bicycles to local heroes and people in the interior who had to walk for miles every day for fresh water, food or medical supplies,” she said.

However, there were many obstacles that came her way. The project hit a rocky patch at the start as there were some laws restricting them to accept containers of charitable items, and she was also threatened with confiscation of bikes.

After months of letters and lawyers trying to convince authorization that they had no plans to sell the bikes, they were passed through.

Shaniera was delighted to receive the beautiful gift from the people of her home country Australia. The bikes were a gift from Australian NGO Bikes4Life. Shaniera and her team then had to assemble all the bikes themselves. They spent months transporting, assembling, painting, oiling chains and pumping tyres so the bikes were as good as new.

The bikes were put together with the help of volunteers, the community of Bikestan, Shaniera’s NGO The Akram Foundation and Muslim Hands Pakistan.

Then came the process of shortlisting the receivers of the bicycles. “Our team interviewed and sourced the most deserving and needy of people all over Sindh.”

Muslim Hands Pakistan transported the bikes to Wazirabad School of Excellence, an institution that educates and houses over 1,200 orphans. Shaniera, along with George Fulton and Abdullah Hassan ventured to Wazirabad to give the bikes to the children.

“It was just worth all the hard work seeing the faces of a child who has no possessions in life accepting a bike of their very own,” she said.

Shaniera said she was proud of being a Pakistani and was happy to see other people’s efforts to help the needy.

While Shaniera looks forward to accepting more bikes from Australia, she believes Pakistan needs to change its restrictions on how they accept charitable items.

“I hope that this will change soon and my organisation and many others can work with NGOs all over the world for the benefit of the needy in Pakistan,” she said.

Shaniera added: “The world is becoming so small, and the way I see it it’s not really about counties anymore, it’s about humanity.”

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