In 2017 Rotary Matamata worked with Rotary clubs from Pakistan, India and USA and a local family trust to provide classroom facilities (furniture, blackboards, book shelves), create additional rooms (library, computer lab and a classroom) and renovate existing classrooms (adding floor tiles, wall plaster, ceiling, doors) for a school funded by the Rotary club of Jhang Saddar, Pakistan.


The city of Jhang is located a three-hour drive from Lahore in Pakistan’s Punjab state.
The Rotary Club of Jhang Saddar, has focused on improving literacy in some of the poorest children in its area since 2002 and, after conducting a survey in the Sarwar Colony district to establish the needs, established a permanent regular primary school The Rotary Education Center Dar-ul-Ehsan, in a local mosque. Later some very basic classrooms were purchased by a Rotarian for the school’s use.
Education at the school is totally free. All the expenses, including teacher’s salaries, books, etc. are borne by the local Rotarians. Over the last 15 years many students have completed their primary school education and gone on to higher education although, due to extreme poverty in the area requiring very young children to work (usually as garbage pickers), the dropout rate is high.
In 2014 Matamata Rotarian and District Polio Co-Chair, Michelle Tanner, was invited to present at a polio conference in Lahore. As a side visit to this trip she was invited to Jhang by Rotarian Khalid Haider who took her to see the school. Khalid took every opportunity to take Rotarians visiting Pakistan to see the school in the hope of securing financial assistance. He was a passionate driver of the school project.
Michelle was appalled by the conditions she found but impressed by the atmosphere in the school. “The children, so willing to learn, were beautifully dressed in uniforms provided by the Rotary club and they were so well behaved. The teachers were dedicated to their work but desperate for more resources and the Rotarians clearly were hoping I would get Rotary Matamata involved to improve conditions at the school” said Michelle.
She returned to Matamata and discussed with fellow Rotarians how they could help these children. In her year as President (2016-17) this international project was approved by the Board of Directors and, supported by a District Grant from The Rotary Foundation, they contributed nearly $8,000 to the school’s redevelopment

The result

The Rotary clubs of Jhang Saddar, Matamata, La Jolla Golden Triangle in San Diego and Delhi Metropolitan in India and a private partner the Arora-Juneja Family Trust of Jhang contributed the required funds and the Rotary Club of Jhang Saddar planned and implemented the project. Building began in January 2017 and was completed within months. In October 2017 Michelle and her daughter Alice from Matamata and Rotarians from San Diego visited Jhang for the opening ceremony.
Sadly, Khalid died just weeks before the school was officially opened and the new development was named the ‘Rtn. Mian Khalid Haider Block’ in his memory.
The transformation Michelle saw was incredible. She said “It was such an emotional day. The children sang, gave readings and performed dances dressed in the most stunning dresses and outfits. They acted out the school’s history with children playing key Rotarians. There was even a ‘Michelle’ acting out my 2014 visit! Khalid’s wife Saeeda officially opened the development with close family in attendance. I cannot describe how it felt to see these children in their simple but clean, painted and decorated classrooms. It was as if they had joined the 21st century and now had a chance in life. I am looking forward to seeing the future academic results and where their education takes these children in the years to come.”
Matamata College’s Interact club contributed to this project. Michelle and Alice filled their luggage with books collected in their Book Drive which they then distributed after the opening ceremony. These several hundred books will be added to the school’s library.
In addition, Michelle and Alice took pens, pencils, a world globe and other school items that were purchased thanks to a personal donation from the wife of a Matamata Rotarian. Thank you to them, and to our local PaperPlus who kindly supplied these at cost price.
The project has a Facebook page. Please take a look
Michelle is happy to give talks on the project. Please just contact us.