'Slumdog' girl gets promise of free education

A day after 'Slumdog Millionaire' child actor Rubina Ali was at the centre of a controversy surrounding her alleged sale to an Arab sheikh, a Qatar-based businessman has offered to fund her education.

A day after 'Slumdog Millionaire' child actor Rubina Ali was at the centre of a controversy surrounding her alleged sale to an Arab sheikh, a Qatar-based businessman has offered to fund her education.

Abdul Rehman Vanoo, an Indian settled in Doha spent an hour with nine-year-old Rubina and her family had a detailed discussion with them before deciding to fund her education.

“I have not seen 'Slumdog Millionaire', but I know it has won several Oscars. Three days ago, when I watched television reports about Rubina’s father allegedly trying to sell her off, it disturbed me deeply,” he told the Mumbai Mirror.

“I have a young daughter, and I could not watch her suffer so much,” added Mr Vanoo who used to stay near the Garib Nagar slum where Rubina currently lives.

The businessman, who moved to the Gulf 25 years ago, has been working with non-profit groups for several years. He is an advisor to Anjuman-Ittehad-Ul-Mustaqeem, an organisation that helps educate people in rural areas.

Mr Vanoo will support Rubina’s educational needs through this group. He has also reportedly provided the family a cover for their roof, providing respite from the monsoons that will lash the slums between June and September.

Kamal Mandelkar, the president of Anjuman-Ittehad-Ul-Mustaqeem, said Mr Vanoo regularly contributes to non-profit groups but usually refrains from interacting directly with the people he helps.

“He never really interacts directly with the people he helps. However, he made an exception with Rubina,” Mr Mandelkar said.

He added that the wealthy philanthropist did not want to fix a certain amount of money that he would spend for the girl. “He does not want to limit himself. He has decided to open a joint account in her name and that of our organisation.

“The money will be used to pay for her education, uniforms and other school-related requirements,” he said.

Mr Vanoo said that he was willing to fund her education in any part of the world, up to a master’s degree or even a doctorate, and has no problem if she wants to study at an International Baccalaureate school, which is known to charge high fees.

“We will sponsor her education no matter how expensive it will be,” he added.

Earlier this week a sting operation by the News of the World said that Rubina’s father Rafiq Ali Qureshi tried to sell her to a fake sheikh for £200,000 (€226,000).

Later, her mother and step-mother were involved in a street brawl over the child’s custody.

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