Power to Pakistan’s Covid-19 masks help girls achieve their dreams


Photo courtesy of Power to Pakistan

Power to Pakistan club members sew masks while socially distanced last summer.

In Pakistan, two out of three girls do not know how to read or write, and 5.6 million girls lack access to education. One club at AHS is helping students in Pakistan fulfill their dreams of attending school.

Power to Pakistan, the non-profit club at AHS, gives children, especially girls, in Pakistan access to education by giving them scholarships through the Moqah Foundation, a non-profit based in Bhara Kahu, Pakistan, that runs two schools in the community. The club’s activities, such as the screening of the film “Girl Rising”, have raised over $6,000, and the club recently began a new initiative: handmade and reusable Covid-19 masks to fund scholarships for underserved youth in Pakistan.

Macy Hopkinson, the club’s founder and president, started the club after attending a panel discussion hosted by the Moqah Foundation with Pakistani students.

“After I attended the event, I was just shocked by how different the education is in Pakistan, and how difficult it is for children, especially girls, to actually get an education,” Hopkinson said.

The current reality of education for girls in Pakistan is grim: girls are often denied an education because of their gender, accessibility to schools, or socioeconomic status, which can lead to full time forced labor, early forced marriages, extremist recruitment, and youth trafficking. Access to education allows students, especially girls, to have better futures, and gives them a sense of purpose that may been taken away because of underrepresentation and discrimination. It also generates income for their families, which eliminates generational poverty and fosters gender equity.

Power to Pakistan holds numerous fundraisers every year to improve access to education in Pakistan, but Covid-19 prevented the club from doing their traditional activities. However, the club held other fundraisers, including their virtual 5k, which raised over $1,116. They also made Covid-19 masks, which can be purchased on Power to Pakistan’s website, powertopakistan.com

The club participates in annual creative projects, including the Summiya scarf and cookbook featuring Pakistani food. This year, masks were designed by Afshan, Ayaz, and Fazal, who are students at the Bhara Kahu school that Power to Pakistan directly supports. A friendly competition was held at the school to find designs and costs were covered by a grant from AHS.

Annika Nichols, Skier Scribbler writer and a club member who helped make the masks, feels that supporting girls to attend school was worth the difficulty of making the masks.

“There were many club members helping cut the fabric and pin it, however, only two of us did all of the sewing for all [140+] masks,” Nichols said, “It was surprising how long it actually took to sew all of the masks.”

Along with fundraising, the club also does a pen pal exchange.

“Since freshman year we’ve always had our pen pal exchange, which has been an integral part of the club, and it’s not just about raising money, it’s really about raising awareness and changing mindsets, so that’s been a big part of the club that I definitely want to continue,” Hopkinson said.

Sonia, who lives in Pakistan and is 14, was one of 15 students who participated in the exchange. “After this exchange I realized that [Americans] are interested in Pakistani culture and that means a lot to me.” Sonia wrote in her letter.