A children’s doctor working at Temple Street Hospital has spent the last two years building a college near his hometown in rural Pakistan that will educate 1,000 students.
While working in Ireland, Dr Mohsin Kamal, a registrar in paediatric nephrology, embarked on the project in 2019 along with two friends.
“We built this college in a village around 50km away from a big city called Dipalpur,” Dr Kamal said.
“There’s no college, neither private nor public, in the area.”
While some boys in the area travel to bigger cities to pursue their education, families are more reluctant to allow girls to travel on their own, he added.
To build and run the college, it has cost €200,000, with Dr Kamal contributing €40,000 personally.
The school is currently educating almost 200 students, and next year hopes to increase its numbers to 1,000.
As well as two playgrounds and a canteen, the college also has three labs — a computer lab, a biology lab and a chemistry lab.
“We have a very good library, I was amazed to see it,” Dr Kamal said.
Teachers are also provided with food and accommodation.
“So they can stay and teach those students up to the same standard as in the big cities so that they can compete with other students.
"This is the standard that we want to provide them with so they can be considered equal when they go to take competitive exams in the future.”
Equality in access to education is a right, he added.
“They deserve to get the same standard of education that the students who are rich are getting.
"If these students get into the medical colleges or into the big universities, this whole village, this whole area will develop in the next ten years. I am hopeful of that.
"That’s why our aim is to educate them."
"They were capable of doing these things but the services weren’t provided to them at that stage,” Dr Kamal said.
"I believe if everyone has equal opportunities, they will do better.”
While being educated in Pakistan in the 1990s, Dr Kamal would cycle each way every day 4km.
“Then I’d hop onto a bus which took me to one of the big cities.
"From there, I would walk another 3km to get to my school. I scored very well in school, and I got into Government College University, a very famous college in Pakistan.
"After studying there for two years, I got into the medical school in Lahore. My hard work paid off, and I also got lucky.”