Oct. 24, 2006, 10:18AM
Walk to celebrate strength of diversity
8,000 will be at UH for event on Sunday
By KIM HUGHES
More than 30,000 people from five different cities are expected to participate in Partnership Walk 2006, and about 8,000 of those walkers are doing so at University of Houston’s Main Campus on Sunday.
Afshi Charania, a volunteer for Aga Khan Foundation USA who is helping coordinate the Houston walk, said the event is to symbolize how people come together to celebrate differences.
“Our theme this year is ‘Diversity is Strength’, ” Charania said.
“It highlights the foundation’s community based approach in building peace, security and development.”
The Aga Khan Foundation funds programs and projects in 16 different countries, mainly in Central or South Asia, East Africa and the Middle East.
Saleena Meghani, media coordinator for the Houston Partnership Walk, with offices located at 10627 Kinghurst , said 100 percent of donations from the walk will go toward those programs.
“One of the programs is something the Foundation started about 25 years ago in Northern Pakistan, called the Rural Support Program,” Meghani said.
“Organizations were created with people from different ethnic and political backgrounds to help solve issues and problems, which created an increase in income and education.
” It promotes dialogue between people and helps resolve conflict.”
There’s also a scholarship program, to which Houston resident Dr. Gul Nowshad can attest.
“I was born and raised in a very poor village in the north part of Pakistan,” said Nowshad, 34, who lives near the Texas Medical Center.
“At that time, there was no school, but the Aga Khan Foundation funded a school nearby and I was blessed to go. I would walk for miles every day to attend, and I would see women suffering.
“My dream was to become a nurse and help women of my region.”
Nowshad has taken it one step further, becoming a physician with the assistance of Aga Khan Foundation scholarships.
She is now attending University of Texas School of Public Health, where in 2004 she earned a master’s degree in management, policy and community health.
In 2007, Nowshad will earn her doctorate, and then take her skills back to Pakistan.
“I am a blessed beneficiary of the foundation, and thanks to the generosity of donors I am where I am today,” Nowshad said.