Fazal and Mahmood are two brothers who beat the odds and are currently studying at McGill University in Canada
These two brothers come from a humble background. Their father is a fruit seller on the streets of Karachi. Their story is one of sheer determination, hard work and unconditional faith.
In May 2013, the Humans of Karachi Facebook page posted a story of a student who used to help his dad out, a fruit seller
This student secured a partial scholarship for McGill University’s Materials Engineering Co-op programme. However, he lacked the funds to attend university. Once this post went viral, his mentor, Adil Soomro set up an an online fund where strangers pitched in to help get Fazal and Mahmood through university.
Adil Soomro is a mentor and sponsor to both brothers
He used to run a school in Karachi that focused on getting poor students a quality O Level education. That is where Soomro met the exceptional duo, Fazal and Mahmood. He has helped them get through their primary and secondary education.
When interviewed by Khuala Jamil, curator of Humans of Karachi, Fazal said;
“My dad is a fruit seller on a street in Karachi. He made sure my brother and sister and I go to school because he believes education will improve our financial situation and also help level the playing field for many others like me.”
Fazal and Mahmood belong to a poor community in Karachi and have a family of five. Their father earns less than PRK 550 ($5) a day by selling fruit on the streets. In order to contribute and help her children achieve their goals, their mother works as a home-based tailor. Lately however, due to her poor health, she cannot supplement the family’s income. Despite all the odds, their father believes that education will be a way out of poverty for his three kids and hence, he has always encouraged them to pursue their dreams.
Based on their previous academic experience, Fazal and Mahmood do not want their identity revealed to the world, yet.
Both of them have had to overcome a lot of stigma and obstacles to reach their current level. School children were not always welcoming when they found out that their father was a mere fruit seller.
However, once in Canada, Fazal spoke to a Pakistan newspaper and had this to say;
“For the first time in my life I did not feel out-of-place, I felt normal. My background did not matter. I was just a regular student.”
Even though both brothers are miles away from their family, they do not stop worrying about them. With their roots strong and their priorities set straight, they still try to lend a hand in any way possible.
“My first Ramazan away from home was incredibly tough,” Mahmood reminisces, his tone gruff with emotion. “I worried every minute about my father working on a typical summer day in Karachi during the Holy month.”
Mahmood’s concern for his father was so sincere that he decided to take up two jobs. Even though he is weighed down by deadlines from the Electrical Engineering & Computer Science programme at McGill, he makes enough money to enough to contribute to his sister’s education. A full-time student with two part-time jobs, Mahmood still managed to bag Summer Undergraduate Research Experience Award.
The brothers aim to inspire people all over the world. They want to send a message out to the hopeless and encourage them to hold on tight.
Fazal explains his mindset;
“I have not achieved anything yet. Going to university is not proof of success. I want to reach a point where I am able to make an impact in the lives of those in similar situations”
“Once I am in a position to help others, I think my story will matter more,” he insists. “Adil Bhai started the cycle from me, I want to continue it. I am determined to pay it forward one day so that I can see the joy education brings to the faces of those who are in my situation.”
Both the boys emphasize the importance of education and give credit to their father for allowing them to chase their dreams. They are utterly grateful to their mentor, Adil Soomro for helping them at every step of the way.
After graduation, both the boys aim to pursue a professional career in Engineering.
They also aim to pay back the community by being a ray of hope for all those who cannot afford an education and by helping them get through school.
This fall, Fazal will start his fifth and final year in Material’s Engineering Co-op Program, while Mahmood will begin his third year in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Program which is a 4 year program.
Help the boys achieve their life-long dream and make a difference to Pakistan!
Fazal and Mahmood are the epitome of hard work and good luck
This is a message to all those students who are in search of some inspiration to help them get through college. If the dynamic trio can achieve their dreams despite their difficult conditions, so can you! Tag your friends in the comments to encourage them to strive harder and help bridge the poverty gap in Pakistan.