Lyari Streets are mostly found flooded with men. They are found smoking, playing games or gossiping either at some small gaming walkways or on the footpaths. However, the women of the Lyari are seen making their way towards the newly-built Lyari Girls Café—a café where they study and get vocational training.
The unusually named institute is situated on the fourth floor of a residential building and has a huge rooftop, which is decorated with lovely handicrafts and embellished sheets. The place is all provided with comfortable couches and even the board games are set up there like Ludo and carrom.
Presently, more than three hundred girls are enrolled in the different courses being offered at the institute including—English, grooming, Computers, Mehndi application, hairstyling and other skills. The institute is one of its kind in Lyari Mandhran Mohalla.
Initially, it was tough to make the girls join this café but now the girls are more than willing to join this centre as informed by the President Sultan Mandhro of the Aas Research and Development Organisation (ARADO).
ARADO is a non-governmental institution set up a decade back, which runs the Lyari Café with the assistance of Terre des Hommes (TDH)—a Germany based organisation.
Mandhro informed that Lyari is such a locality where girls are not easily allowed to leave their home premises for study purposes once they complete their matriculation. And even if they step out it is just to work as maids.
He said that the objective of the café is to recreate and develop skills of the violence-affected children and young girls. Another big reason was to bring these children and girls into the mainstream.
One other significant reason behind setting up this café is to provide technological and language access to the girls by teaching them computers and English.
He mentioned that although Lyari is an under-privileged locality, however, their spirit of volunteerism is appreciable—as all the teachers who work in the café are working on voluntary basis.
Sassi Muhammad Khan—Lyari Café Project Coordinator said that there is no one to encourage children, particularly girls to study—this café is the first institute for girls of the area where the girls can come and learn different skills.
The centre is also offering a program for the out-of-school children. Zulaikha Dawood—a social mobiliser at the café said that the future of the children is linked to acquiring education. Dawood further mentioned that when they started to mobilise the parents for letting their children get education none of them showed any interest but eventually with time and pursuance they started sending their children to the café.
Children between the age of five and sixteen years of age are taught English, Urdu and Maths at the café.
ARADO has been involved for ten years in the activities relating the development of the youth in Lyari(Karachi) for making them capable to deal with the altering requirements of the world, Mandhro explained.
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