The summer before her sophomore year of high school, Manhoor Umair’13 witnessed a frustrating truth during a family trip. In between connecting with her family’s roots in Pakistan, she also noted the lack of educational opportunities in underprivileged villages.
“While we were driving to get to the city, we passed by some villages, one of which stood out to me,” explained Manhoor. “In the 119-degree weather, little boys were sitting under trees attempting to do schoolwork. No book, no room, nothing.”
Viewing this as a young student from a private Catholic school, Manhoor describes the feeling of her heart sinking as she thought about the resources she and her classmates are accustomed to. She asked her father where the school was, only to learn that there hadn’t been a school in the village for decades.
She recalls her father saying, “someday someone” will take care of it.” At the time, of course, he could not have known it would be his daughter who would take steps to make these changes.
“Upon returning from the Middle East, I began relooking at my priorities,” said Manhoor. “I was empowered to help these kids achieve quality education despite them living in a destitute community.”
After returning to the US, she started a service project with her Carondelet classmates delivering school supplies to Pakistani children. In 2012, she founded the non-profit organization, “Angels without Borders.” Because of Manhoor’s work with this nonprofit, Victoria Secret’s “Pink With A Purpose Project” awarded her $25,000.
“I was raised in the U.S., appreciating and admiring the freedoms that I had for myself, yet through my Pakistani-Muslim heritage was a witness to the striking injustices withholding young girls from receiving an education in developing countries,” said Manhoor.
What started as a school supplies drive at Carondelet High School grew into a full-fledged non-profit whose mission is building schools and installing water pumps in developing countries. “We aspire to spread education to those who are not as fortunate enough to receive it and provide necessary resources to the village,” Manhoor explained. “The schools that are built are equipped with the needed books and classroom essentials.”
Manhoor uses her platform to educate others on the educational disparities by speaking to companies and high schools. “Education has been the foundation in my own personal life,” she said. “It has allowed me to find my voice, to open my mind to a plethora of information and knowledge I had not once known. It has provided me opportunities that my immigrant parents would have never believed.”