Irvine businessman Saghir Aslam has successfully completed a five-story building, the first of its kind orphanage “Saba Homes,” for displaced children affected by the Oct 8, 2005 earthquake to provide the unfortunate with the state-of-the-art accommodation, education, and healthcare. The 29-room orphanage is planned to accommodate 60 parentless girls aged 4 to 8 years. The orphans will be brought to the orphanage from far-flung quakeaffected areas of the country’s northern region and AJK.
Nearly 200 guests from all walks of life, including educationists, health professionals, philanthropists, representatives of NGOs and media men, attended the ceremony on November 2, 2008. Guests from all the four provinces along with a few hailing from the US turned up at the ceremony. The participants appreciated the efforts made by Mr. Saghir Aslam who is Chairman of Saba Aslam Education & Welfare Trust.
Talking to this scribe the 72- year-old Mr. Saghir Aslam said, “I have been living in the US for almost half a century, started from low level and progressed to buyer, manager, managing million of dollars, and traveling around the world for buying merchandise. After that I opened my own fabric and home decorating store in a prestigious shopping mall and grew to a chain of stores from Laguna Hills Mall to Santa Monica Mall and in between started helping the helpless, deserving and downtrodden for the last 43 years.” Regarding the orphanage he built after the 2005 quake he said, “The plight and misery of down and out children has always touched my wife Bushra’s heart. Time and again she expressed her desire to adopt some of the orphans. She had been for long talking about the idea of raising even a small group of parentless girls with the same level of love, care and opportunity as if they were our own children. In 2004, during a meeting with a close friend, Mr Akram Chaudhry we discussed the proposal and he was overjoyed and said that’s what he had been precisely wanting to do. Thus he supported the idea wholeheartedly and with the help of ANC Foundation, Givelight Foundation and APPNA and many others this dream came to a reality.”
“Saba Homes” is a subsidiary of Saba Aslam Education & Welfare Trust. It was decided to keep six girls in a room and for every two rooms there will be a mother to look after the girls properly. “These girls will become the future leaders of Pakistan. We will teach them to love every human being, no matter what their religion, country or color. We will treat these children as we treat our own,” Mr Aslam said. The guests were surprised to see the five-story, marble walled Saba Homes building which is connected to the Trust Headquarters. It has classrooms, a large playroom, two libraries, a cafeteria, gardens, a computer lab and state-of-the art sleeping room. Each girl can snuggle into her own hand quilted comforter – “60 in all” – donated by Tom Thorkelson of Newport Beach Director of Interfaith Relations for the Southern California Chapter of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints. Thorkelson was also responsible for putting Aslam in touch with Mormon Aid Organizations including Deseret International which works with the Trust in setting up eye camps and clinics in Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Sudan and many other countries.
Aslam’s next project is an eye hospital in Baffa in the Himalayan Mountains. The local community has donated three acres of land on the bank of the Siran River to the Trust. Junaid Swati who coordinated the donation said the gift was a symbol of Baffa appreciation of Aslam’s work in the area after the earthquake. The hospital financed by Gary Sabin Children’s Foundation of San Diego will serve the 15 million residents of five mountainous districts: Haripur, Abbottabad, Mansehra (which includes Baffa), Battagram and Kohistan. Sabin Children Foundation is the main financier of Deseret International. One of the Directors of Saba Trust Mr. Abdul Shakoor who moderated the speeches of the distinguished guests briefed the participants on their plans for generating funds to run the orphanage on sustainable basis. “However it is the community participation that makes a charity organization a success,” he said while claiming that Saba Trust actually wants the orphanage to be a history-making institution. To a query he said anyone from Pakistan or abroad willing to join hand with IEWS/Saba Trust could participate in thenoble project. IEWS Tax ID No.33-0716944. In USA, your tax deductible donations can be sent to : International Education & Welfare Society Mail check to: 43 Herringbone Irvine, CA #92620