Sister Zeph with French President Emmanuel Macron

One million dollars! That is how much our partner from Pakistan recently won in the Varkey Foundation annual Global Teacher competition, an award ceremony held in Paris. There were over 7,000 applicants from 130 countries, and our own dear partner Sister Zeph was chosen for this prestigious award, paid out over 10 years.

At age 13, Sister Zeph decided to leave school after experiencing chronic bullying and abuse as a minority child in her school. She started studying on her own and included her younger sister and some friends in her “free school”. Every year, she paid to take the required tests to progress through each grade of High School and University. At 39, she now holds two master’s degrees! She never stopped teaching others who either could not afford school or were afraid to go, continuing her “free school” without charging any fees for all students. Along the way, she has helped over 3,000 students graduate from high school and many are now in university. Her award will be applied to her “free school” for children.

Running a school for children was not enough of a dream for Sister Zeph and she soon realized that women are woefully undereducated and disempowered. In the year 2007, she started a vocational training center for women so they could learn moneymaking skills and gain some independence. SowHope has helped fund some of the classes for this women’s vocational training school since 2021. With SowHope’s support, Sister Zeph not only trained over 400 women through the vocational center during the period, but also launched a clothing brand to generate jobs for women and to fund the free school and the vocational center.

We cannot be more thrilled that Sister Zeph was chosen for this significant award. She certainly deserves it. Congratulations, Sister Zeph!