Shehzad Roy, a famous Pakistani pop singer, went to Thar (a desert in Sindh, Pakistan), for recording one of his music videos. He didn’t know it then that this experience would change his life. At the time of shooting the video, Roy became aware of hardships people, especially children, have to face on a daily basis in rural areas. They have, he saw, a very low quality of life, are deprived of basic provisions of life and have few human rights. Roy was touched most when he saw “innocent and beautiful children” drinking contaminated water” near carcasses of decayed birds and animals. This morbid experience changed Roy’s perception of life. And, he decided to take some responsibility of helping under-privileged children of Pakistan through education. For this, he started by opening up a philanthropic school. Shehzad Roy shared this noble idea with his well- wishers and friends. They all showed their willingness to contribute to the cause. Especially, the great vanguard of philanthropy in Pakistan, Mr. Edhi supported him, and also appeared in his video, which Roy had made purely for the Trust campaign, named, “Zindagi (life) Trust: I am paid to learn.”
The Trust is not like any other charity school. The whole concept is very innovative. Here “they pay you to learn.” For sure it is very fascinating in nature for the indigent section of our society. Instead of charging fees, they give student Rs. 20 daily to attend classes. Not only will it help in educating the children, but will also, play a vital role in eradicating child labor from our country.
The response has been great. Roy’s well- wishers, friends, fans and others donate and volunteer to work for the Trust. What began with 1 school in Mansoor Colony, Karachi, is now spread in 3 major cities of Pakistan. The trust has 14 schools in Karachi, 11 in Lahore and 9 in Rawalpindi! There are 148 teachers working in these school and over 2,000 students are studying in the schools.
Shahzad Roy has founded a Girls’ Secondary School in Shahadpur as well. He understands very well that, “educating a female means educating a whole generation” and that we need educated females in our society. By setting up the Girls’ school, he has surely set an example for others.
Shehzad Roy’s sincerity and urge to help people does not end here. On 8th October 2005, a major earthquake hit Kashmir and North-Western areas of Pakistan. Over 85,000 people died and there were innumerable casualties. To help curb the agonies of the earthquake victims, Roy made an announcement to arrange a charity concert. And for the first time in Pakistan, a foreign megastar, the legendary, Bryan Adams was to perform in it, to help in collecting donations. The concert took place on 29 January 2006, at Arabian Sea Club, Karachi. Unquestionably, the concert was a huge success, over 10,000 people turned up to contribute to the cause. And to add more, shirts were sold for Rs. 100 Bryan Adams was spellbound by the program of “I am paid to learn.” Adams said in the concert; “you people should be proud of this guy, for what he is doing for the country.” This classic musical event gained the attention of international media as well. When Bryan was asked about the experience he had in here, he said; “Never once did we ever feel that there was a problem with security… I met nothing but lovely people.” This shows not only the event helped the cause but also presented a softer image of Pakistan in the west. As Roy said himself; “Adam show has proven that Karachi is safe a city and Pakistan as a safe country as any other place in the world.”
Roy’s selflessness and devotion to make a difference is leading him to do more. He could not overlook the health problem in our country. For that, a Healthcare project was started by him in Sultanabad, near a town Shahadpur, where pediatric, prenatal, and postnatal treatments are provided. Roy plans to launch more projects, relating to healthcare in various parts of Pakistan.
In recognition of all of Roy’s efforts and altruism, He has been awarded Tamgha-e-Imtiaz, one of the highest civilian awards in Pakistan. It should be noted that he was the youngest and only pop singer, in Pakistan who had received this award, at the time of writing this article.