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MENAFN - Khaleej Times - 11/05/2014
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(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Aqil through a heart-warming project called ?one well 700 lives? won a scholarship to an ivy league college thanks to a contest run by just falafel.

at the surface of it not much distinguishes teenager aqil rashid from others his age born and brought up in dubai.his grandfather moved to the uae from pakistan in the early 70s and ran a shop on shaikh zayed road — general trading. aqil now completely immersed in the uae culture calls himself a “non-local local” switching seamlessly from americanised english to ‘haan-ji’-pepperd urdu. t-shirt wearing aqil says it used to drive his grandfather crazy when he would bury his chin and nose into the neck of round-neck tees “but then i started wearing v-necks so it wasn’t a problem.”

born and brought up in dubai aqil who turns 18 today says he doesn’t drink coffee but started styling his hair back when he was seven. behind all that chatter it’s not difficult to assess that what makes him stand out is his attitude; not the kind you would attribute to teenagers. in a tedx talk he speaks of “empathy” and “heightened sense of awareness”. as if that’s not unusual enough aqil through a heart-warming project called ‘one well 700 lives’ won a scholarship to an ivy league college thanks to a contest run by uae-based company just falafel.

the contest was called help us help you and was largely enabled by social media. aqil rashid thanks to hs two-minute long video submissions on why he deserves it and what he’s done was declared the winner. the clips can be watched on youtube.

aqil a 15-year-old back then dedicated much of his time collecting funds and channelising them to build drinking water wells in remote villages in afghanistan. he found out about the need through a friend of his father crucial to his heightened sense of awareness of the plight of children who don’t get clean water in afghanistan and pakistan. he credits his father and mother with instilling in him the right values and the necessity to consider the plight of others less privileged.

he was able to make a trip to chitral in north pakistan and teach young school children. on his facebook page called ‘1 well 700 lives’ he writes: “people there were facing similar challenges. these are the photos of the month-long trip i took along with three of my friends. we taught students of grades 3 4 5 and 6 for a week at the al nasir school visited umeed e noor (a centre for special needs children) in islamabad as well as experienced the living conditions of afghan refugees in islamabad. this was all possible thanks to the enormous support of the hashoo foundation.”

aqil has documented the progress of this project and its origins. he plans to have his education and college degree help his goal o provide clean drinking water in afghanistan which is why “i want a nice clean record kinda thingie” he says.

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Khaleej Times




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