This year, eight young Pakistanis are among the inspirational people who bagged the prestigious Diana Award.
Established in memory of Diana the award is considered the “highest accolade” a young person can achieve for social action or humanitarian efforts.
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.
1. Ayesha Sheikh
Ayesha Sheikh is a 17 year old from Sukkur. She received the award for promoting quality education, health and producing solutions for sustainability in communities.
She has been a part of the executive team of the ‘Royal Entrepreneurs’ and organised youth conferences and campaigns on women empowerment and human rights. She actively participates in ‘Model United Nations.
Ayesha has also several other prestigious awards to her name.
2. Yumna Majeed
Yumna, 23, a resident of Lahore, received the award for her efforts for space education in Pakistan. She has helped to make space science and space education fashionable in Pakistan and has visited more than 30 schools and conducted over 50 sessions.
She says that she wanted to become an astronaut but she was always ridiculed for this dream. This is why she started ‘Exploration with Yumna’ with the sole aim to guide people who have the courage to dream big because she 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.
3. Izat Ullah
23-year-old Izat Ullah from Quetta also bagged the coveted award. He has directly supported over 5,000 young people as a career counsellor. He has also 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 awareness campaign”
4. Zubair Junjunia
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.
Zubair is currently in London for study. He attended University College London between 2016 and 2020, where he studied for a master’s degree in Mathematics.
5. Muhammad Asim Masoom Zubair
24-year-old Muhammad Asim Masoom Zubair from Bahawalpur was given the award for working on the frontline as a healthcare professional during the initial outbreak of Covid-19. He produced 5,000 bottles of hand sanitiser to reduce the spread of the disease.
6. Muhammad Hamza Waseem
Another young awardee, just a year shy of his 25th birthday, is Muhammad Hamza Waseem who co-founded the student-run magazine Spectra in 2017 and went on to publish nearly 225 science articles and mentored more than 200 students in science journalism.
Hamza also helped organise the biggest public science festival in Pakistan, the ‘Lahore Science Mela’, attended by more than 60,000 people.
As a graduate student in Oxford since October 2019, he has engaged diverse audiences at high profile outreach events.
Excelling in his own education, Hamza was awarded the prestigious ‘Rhodes Scholarship’ in recognition of his academic success, an award that is given to only one student in Pakistan each year.
7. Hassan Ashraf
Hassan Ashraf, the 25 years old boy from Faisalabad, received the award for his not-for-profit organisation ‘UMEED’. It has grown to consist of 20 branches educating more than 1,500 children across the country.
During the pandemic, Hassan also fundraised for and coordinated the distribution of ration bags and cash to over 6,000 impacted families.
Talking about the first experience that generated in his heart a passion for educating underprivileged people, Hassan said he was distributing clothes to needy people when a child expressed his wish to get educated. “It was the start of my slum and child labour school project, this boy proved to be the first drop of rain.”
8. Eiman Jawwad
16-year-old Eiman Jawwad is the youngest Pakistani to grab the award.
She has been conferred the award for reaching out to Lahore’s largest burn centre where she distributed the garments to everyone in need. So far, over 1,200 garments have been distributed to more than 700 patients.
In more than 20 years, around 50,000 selfless young people from across the world have been recognised for their social action and humanitarian work with the Diana Award.