The Noor Project was founded in 2012 by Khalid Sheikh as part of the Needy and Hungry Foundation. Mr. Sheikh and his wife have extended their generosity through charity work in Africa, but also wanted to build ties with Lahore – the city Mrs. Sheikh is from. The Noor Project started with a small feeding center in the outskirts of Lahore and now operates several programs including an orphanage for girls and vocational training workshops for adults. The Project, through the right tools and guidance, aims to empower communities and equip them to thrive in the wake of poverty, disease, and the lack of education.
The mission of The Noor Project (TNP) is to impact poverty-stricken communities by providing resources for families to become self-sufficient. The project team envisions making an impact beyond providing immediate and short-term relief for those in need by offering longer term solutions, like education and skills-based training that will raise families out of poverty. Families, once enrolled in the 3-6 month programs, are offered basic health care, grocery assistance, and education services for children while adult family members are given the chance to avail vocational training. The team believes this is the path to empowering marginalized communities, and what sets the project’s work apart from other development and aid agencies.
TNP currently offers care and guidance in the form of a feeding center and a food bank, a health clinic and pharmacy, education from kindergarten through O/A levels, as well as vocational training. These workshops focus on providing computer literacy, sewing and embroidery training, beautician courses, and mechanical skills. These services are offered free of charge and have been immensely popular, so much so that there is currently a waiting list to get into the program. Misbah, a program participant, remembers having to wait four weeks after filling out her application to enroll in a vocational training course. The project verified her financial status before she was able to begin her sewing training. In 2016, when TNP first started offering vocational classes, 90 people were enrolled. In 2017, this number jumped to 225 due to high demand and interest.
The project is also unique in its structure – in that there are little to no administrative costs. TNP relies on the concern and financial commitment from Mr. Sheikh and his wife, and financial commitments through fundraising efforts through the year. All funds raised by the project team are for programs and capital related needs for project implementation in Lahore, where TNP has built a reputation of running a professional and financially transparent operation. Their facility is modern and clean, and feedback from the community has been incredibly positive.
Asif Mustafa, an advisory board member for TNP, spoke with the American Pakistan Foundation about his experience with the project thus far. His involvement with the project began because of a personal connection with Mr. Sheikh, but he has long since been motivated to stay involved and give back through an organization that is working to break the cycle of poverty in Pakistan. The total cost to operate all programs based in Lahore, he notes, is as minimal as $25,000 a month.
Looking ahead, TNP will be growing its orphanage and school services through construction of a dedicated grammar school facility, expanding care programs for the elderly and adding vocational training opportunities for adult participants. The project will continue to provide its services to as many people as its space and funding will allow. The organization’s Board hopes to continue to make strategic decisions to set up the project for a long successful tenure.
To learn more about the organization and how you may get involved, please visit The Noor Project’s website and check out the noor book. For updates on programs, please follow them on Twitter and Facebook.