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Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Family complete triathlon whilst fasting to raise money for girls’ education in Pakistan

A family from Bradford has completed a triathlon whilst fasting during Ramadan to raise much-needed funds for the education of girls from Bhirta, Mota Gharbi and surrounding villages in Pakistan.

A family from Bradford has raised almost £3000 by completing a triathlon whilst fasting during Ramadan to provide education for girls in Pakistan.

Sabbiyah Pervez, a broadcast journalist for BBC Look North, and her husband, Mohsin Ditta, along with their three children, Danniya, Yahya and Imaan, ran, cycled, and swam during the holy month to raise much-needed funds to give girls from Bhirta, Mota Gharbi and surrounding villages in Jhelum, Punjab, a year’s worth of education, including tuition, resources, and uniform.

During Ramadan, a month where all able-bodied Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset to become closer to God, strenuous physical activity and sports sessions are often put on hold or limited so that the body is not put under strain whilst going without food and water during daylight hours.

Sabbiyah Pervez and her family completed a triathlon to raise money to give girls in rural villages in Pakistan an education.

However, many people use the holy month as an opportunity to undertake physical activity challenges as a way of raising money for charity when the reward is multiplied, using their health and fitness as a way to help those less fortunate in an act of worship.

So far, the family has generated £2700 on their online fundraising page which will see five or six girls going to school through the Alam Academy in Mota Gharbi.

According to the Malala Fund, a charity set up by Malala Yousafzai, a girls’ education activist, Pakistan has made significant progress for girls’ education in the last decade, but 12 million girls are out of school, with only 13% of girls reaching grade nine, which is around year ten in the British education system.

Mr Ditta completed a sprint triathlon which included 750m swimming, 20km cycling and 5km running. Mrs Pervez and her children completed a mini-triathlon which included 500m swimming, 10km cycling and 2km running. Apart from their two youngest children, the family completed the triathlon whilst fasting.

The family accomplished the sports feat with the help of Mumtaz Khan, founder and director of the award-winning Onna Ju-Jitsu Club and Onna Bike and Bradford Grammar School.

The couple ran around 200km during Ramadan last year to raise money for Bradford Foundation Trust but was inspired to take on the triathlon challenge for girls in Pakistan after Mrs Pervez reflected on a trip she took to the country with her grandmother as a teenager who passed away two years ago due to Covid-19.

Mrs Pervez said: “Last year, my husband and I completed a Ramadan challenge to raise money for Bradford Foundation Trust where we run around 200km whilst fasting. For a long time, I have wanted to do something for the impoverished young girls in rural villages in Pakistan.

“I was around eighteen or nineteen when I last visited and was shown around by my late grandmother, visiting people who she helped support at the time. A lot of the girls, who were a little bit older than what my youngster daughter is now, around seven years old, were placed into more affluent families where they became maids.

Mr Ditta completed a sprint triathlon which included 750m swimming.

“What concerned me was that they were incredibly young girls, vulnerable, isolated and poor, where they could be open to exploitation. I

“remember asking my grandmother why they weren’t put into education, and she said it was because of the lack of funding or that their parents don’t want them to go to school, which left a mark on me.

“My grandmother passed away with Covid-19 two years ago and since then, coincidentally, the idea to raise money for the girls has galvanised in me.”

She added: “We believe that by keeping fit physically, you keep your mind fit. It is about discipline and discipline is a big aspect of our parenting.

“Both my grandfathers were in the military, so I grew up with people who were very physically active. Sport and exercise release endorphins and allows you to appreciate just how much your body can do.

“The triathlon wasn’t easy, training during fasting was rigorous and there were days when we were absolutely aching, but it was brilliant. My daughter described it as being exhilarating and that’s exactly how I’d sum it up.

“For us as parents, we wanted to show our kids that it is also a service to God, using our health and fitness to help those less fortunate. Bradford is full of beautiful green spaces and parks. They are on our doorstep and free, there for all to use so why shouldn’t we.”

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