The Shining Light Story
It began with a young Pakistani man’s dream to bring education to a handful of poor, marginalized children within his neighborhood in Gilgit, Pakistan.
These children were born into families with mostly illiterate parents who worked menial jobs and could not afford to send their children to school. They had little hope of a prosperous future, so the young man began to champion the education of these children. He raised money to send them to school an he opened his home to them to begin an after-school tutoring program. The handful of children he tutored quickly grew to twenty, and then the twenty quickly outgrew his home.
In 2003, the young man partnered with a group of foreign volunteers and together they founded the Gilgit Children’s Coaching Center. Word spread about a place where kids were encouraged to learn in a creative and safe environment and the Coaching Center quickly expanded to over 60 kids with an ever-growing waitlist.
The message was clear: Pakistan is hungry for education.
It soon became evident that there was great need for more than just an after-school program. So in 2005, the team established the Shining Light Academy – a full elementary school with over 120 students enrolled in grades preschool – 2nd grade. Year after year, the Academy continued to grow, adding more students and a new grade level each year. Today, the Shining Light Academy enrolls over 600 students from preschool – 10th grade.
After the formation of Shining Light Academy, there were still many unmet needs in the area. The vision that began in the young man’s house those years ago now reached beyond just the education of children to the empowerment of women as well.
In 2007, the Women’s Vocational Training Center (WVTC) was built to teach women practical skills such as sewing, knitting, and embroidery as a means to provide for their families. Upon completion of the WVTC’s vigorous training, each graduate is given her own sewing machine and the guidance to begin a new career for her family. Today, over 560 women have been trained with these life-changing skills.
In 2011, that once young Pakistani man and the same foreign volunteers established Shining Light International as an internationally recognized nonprofit NGO with the mission of “bringing hope for a brighter future to northern Pakistan.” We’ve made it our mission to bring education to children, women, and communities in the most remote, hard-to-access areas of Gilgit Baltistan, Pakistan.