COLUMBIA - Veeda Javaid brought greetings, photos, a handmade scarf and a message of hope from schools affiliated with the Presbyterian Church of Pakistan that has been working to aid the country's impoverished.
Javaid, executive director of the Presbyterian Education Board in Pakistan, spoke to 14 people Wednesday evening at First Presbyterian Church. She was invited to talk as part of the church's guest lecture series. The series invites people to Columbia to provide different perspectives, according to church executive administrative assistant Chrissy Jones.
Javaid has been a high school math teacher for 23 years and has served on the board for the past 12 years. She said she is working to provide quality education to the children of Pakistan, especially those experiencing severe poverty.
“Quality education is education in which you can cultivate values,” Javaid said.
She said she wishes to use education to change society.
“We are building the bridges in that community, between Christians and Muslims, east and west, and working hard to create peace and love in that community,” Javaid said. “In order to bring peace in Pakistan and around the world, education is the key.”
Javaid said Pakistan's schools were nationalized in 1972 by the government, resulting in what she sees as a decline in educational quality. In 1998, religious institutions began to run their own schools again as they had been doing before 1972, according to Javaid. Now the board operates 15 schools, four boarding houses and a project to empower girls and women at risk because of their economic and social situations.
Tom and Mildred Brown, who have been members of First Presbyterian for 45 years, said they were interested in Javaid's talk.
“It gives us some good things to think about,” said Mildred, 81.
Javaid said she wants to spread the message of societal change through education in the U. S.
“This is the land of the plenty,” she said. “I wish people realize how much God has given them, how blessed they are. I wish the children of the United States realize how much they have.”