Eight Pakistanis win prestigious Diana Award


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Nearly two decades after her death, Diana, Princess of Wales, continues to inspire positive change in the lives of young people around the world. This year, eight young Pakistanis are among the inspirational people who bagged the prestigious Diana Award.

The awardees include three girls – Eiman Jawwad, Ayesha Shaikh, and Yumna Majeed – and five boys – Izat Ullah, Zubair Junjunia, Muhammad Asim Masoom Zubair, Muhammad Hamza Waseem, and Hassan Ashraf. Established in memory of Diana the award is considered the “highest accolade” a young person can achieve for social action or humanitarian efforts.

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The Express Tribune spoke with these young people who shared their views and experiences that made them who they are and also proved to be catalysts for change in their communities. Ayesha Sheikh, 17, who hails from Sukkur, received the award for promoting quality education, and health and producing solutions for sustainability in communities.

Speaking to The Express Tribune, Ayesha shared that she has represented Pakistan on various international platforms.

“I have been part of the executive team of the ‘Royal Entrepreneurs’ and organized youth conferences and campaigns on women empowerment and human rights,” she said, adding that she actively participates in ‘Model United Nations.

Ayesha has also several other prestigious awards to her name. Yumna Majeed, 23, a resident of Lahore, received the award for helping to make space science and space education fashionable in Pakistan and visiting more than 30 schools and conducting over 50 sessions.

Opening up about her struggle and life’s nonlinear trajectory, Yumna told The Express Tribune that she did not relent when she was told her dream was unattainable. In fact, the adversary bred grounds for the realization of her dream.

“I always secretly held the dream in my chest of becoming an astronaut. When I first mustered the courage to share it with my teacher in the 9th grade, I was ridiculed,” she said, harking back on her childhood.

“I started ‘Exploration with Yumna’ with the sole aim to guide people who have the courage to dream big because I can’t see people humiliating and discouraging other people’s dreams.”

Yumna has also worked with astronauts from Nasa. “For me, it’s not about the award, it’s the impact I have created in people’s lives,” she said with conviction and hope.

23-year-old Izzat Ullah from Quetta bagged the coveted award for directly supporting over 5,000 young people as a career counselor and devising multiple youth-focused campaigns during the pandemic in Balochistan.

Izat, who is the only Pakistani from Balochistan to receive the Diana award, said: “I belong to an area where it is very hard to persuade parents to send their children, especially girls, to school. Initially, I faced hurdles in achieving my goal. But now we have enrolled 200 Afghan refugee girls in schools

So far, Izat added, he has provided scholarships to 3,000 students. “During the lockdown, I provided food rations to 1,000 families and also ran an awareness campaign”

Zubair Junjunia, 23, from Karachi, received Diana Award for setting up a blog to share the resources he created for his own exams, completely free of charge, whilst reiterating the principle that quality education is a right, not a privilege.

His high-quality and concise revision notes were discovered by students all over the world and, as a result, ‘znotes’ was born.

Today, with hundreds of contributors, ‘znotes’ has passed 21 million hits with more than 3 million unique visitors, becoming a go-to resource for students and teachers all around the world.

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