Rebuilding Schools in Pakistan

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The night before school started, sisters Khadija and Maryam were so excited they could not sleep. They laid out their uniforms in preparation for the first day. When the sun rose, they hurriedly dressed, ate breakfast and headed out.

“As soon as I entered the school, I saw a whole new building,” Maryam says. “I couldn’t believe that it was my own school.”


Khadija and Maryam share their experience returning to the Government Girls Community Model School in the Dera Ismail Khan District.

Photo by Ramla Batool/CRS


Hoping to become doctors, Maryam and Khadija are both in the fourth grade. They live with their parents and two sisters in a village that suffered damage from severe flooding in 2022.

“I remember it rained heavily that day and there was a roar in the community that our school building had collapsed,” Maryam says. “I was very much worried about my education.”

With financial support from the O’Neil Foundation, Catholic Relief Services rehabilitated 18 schools in the Dera Ismail Khan District, in Pakistan. Through CRS’ implementing partner, the Foundation for Rural Development, the project prioritized a safe environment for learning through rebuilding water, sanitation and hygiene facilities.


Khadija and Maryam enjoy newly installed slides during recess at the Government Girls Community Model School.

Photo by Ramla Batool/CRS


“When the flood hit, there was 3 feet of water in our home,” says Khadija and Maryam’s father, Mehboob Khan. “I could see water everywhere. We had no choice but to move to our relatives home in the city for several months.”

When the floods finally receded and they returned to their village, the first thing Mehboob did was visit the school. He felt heartbroken when he saw the heavily damaged building. But even despite the absence of water and sanitation facilities, classes began in January 2023.

“There were large cracks in the walls in almost every classroom,” Mehboob says. “The school boundary was damaged and the washrooms were not operational.”

Many students did not return to the school because of the damage—like Mehboob, their parents were concerned for their safety.

Head Teacher, Rehana Qayuum, became focused on ensuring that students could catch up for lost time.

“It was a huge drop out when we resumed classes, and it was understandable from the parents’ perspective,” Rehana says.

After the CRS project was completed, Rehana let families know that the building was once again safe for students. “It was communicated to parents that the school building was safe, rehabilitated and equipped with clean facilities—and that drinking water was available for the students,” she says.

In addition to the school’s water resources being repaired, the project also provided hygiene kits and hygiene awareness sessions for students.


Students receive hygiene kits in Pakistan

Students receive hygiene kits as part of the project to promote safe and healthy practices in the Government Girls Community Model School.

Photo by Ramla Batool/CRS


It’s no surprise that many students were happy when they saw the renovated facilities.

“I never used the toilet when I was in school, and there was no clean water available,” says 11-year-old Ayesha. “I always waited to go back home. But now, the bathrooms are clean and drinking water is always available.”


students in Pakistan wash their hands in the new facilities at their school

Ayesha and another student wash their hands in the new facilities at their school.

Photo by Ramla Batool/CRS