In conversation with Lubna Shakoh: CEO Hope Uplift Foundation

As Hope Uplift Foundation completes its twenty years, Marryam Suleman interviews NGO’s chief executive officer

Lubna Shakoh is a philanthropist and an entrepreneur working for public welfare. Through her organization called Hope Uplift Foundation (HUF), which she has been running for the last twenty years, Shakoh strives to uplift humanity and make as many opportunities as possible for her fellow human beings. Following twenty successful years of HUF, Minute Mirror got in touch with the inspirational lady to have a short conversation with her.

  1. We all have some examples to look up to in life. Who was your role model that inspired you to start Hope Uplift Foundation?

My motivation was my father Muhammad Iftikhar, who was the director of Social Welfare Department. He started Kashana and Behbud vocational institutes for women empowerment, inculcating a sense of social work in me from my childhood. Growing up and following in his footsteps, I discovered the humanitarian within myself and started my organization.

  1. Being a woman, what challenges did you have to face upon starting this NGO?

It has not been an easy journey starting an NGO working on a vast scale under four major programmes namely, Education, Hunger Relief, Public Assistance and Shelter. I started off with just Rs300 in hand. Taking it to the next level gradually, I worked hard day and night to establish an NGO working dedicatedly to serve humanity 24/7.

  1. What are your key achievements in your journey of uplifting hopes?

My biggest achievements include getting certified from Pakistan Centre of Philanthropy, Federal Board of Revenue and setting up a State-of-the-Art School for the financially challenged children with free education. Besides, I have received multiple awards of appreciation and recognition for HUF services. Recently, I was awarded with Fatima Jinnah National Pride Award at the Governor House for my twenty years of services towards humanity.

  1. Which is the biggest hurdle in the progress of the country – unemployment or low literacy rate?

I believe it is the literacy rate because the more the literacy rate, higher the rate of employment opportunities. In Pakistan, education is not given a priority because it is difficult for a family to even bear the basic needs. How would it be possible for an individual to focus on his education and growth when he lacks the resources to even feed himself? Therefore, our main programme is HUF Education through which we have educated numerous students so far and continue to do so.

  1. Where do you see HUF in next twenty years?

By the grace of Allah, the first twenty years of HUF have been greatly successful. The efforts put into the causes to serve humanity at large have been tremendous and since then, the zeal and enthusiasm has doubled. So are our hopes to soar higher than ever.

  1. What keeps you going? Is there any advice which you would like to give to the youngsters who wish to work for public welfare?

My motivation is my wish to become a Sadqa-e-Jaria for my parents. Secondly, when I help someone deserving, I feel so happy and satisfied that I want to help more people. I also think that I could have been in the deserving line, so I must thank Allah.  I do all this to thank Him for the blessings He has bestowed upon me, such as breathing without having to depend on an oxygen cylinder. There was a man who used go to the sea shore and throw the star fish back into the water.  Somebody asked him why he does this every day and that he cannot save the entire world’s star fish even if he continues to do this, as so many of them die every day. The man replied, “Let me save as many as I can.” This goes for me too.

  1. Would you like to give any message on Hope Uplift Foundation’s 20th anniversary?

My message is that wherever there are human beings, there is an opportunity for kindness. Whatever nice deed we perform here, it shall become an opportunity of goodness in the hereafter. I would also suggest everyone to regularly give charity or Zakat – 1/3rd of their income to please Allah and help His creation prosper.