Pakistan’s World No.239 Noorena Shams work extends far beyond the squash court as shown in her recent efforts to help communities in Pakistan affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
At just 22-years-old she was recently appointed as the youngest member of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Sports Management Committee in Pakistan and has been listed among 24 Inspirational figures by the United Nations Development Programme.
Shams has also been very vocal with her activism work and has been working against harassment in sports and against harassment of female Muslim athletes around the world. In 2017, she was invited by Malala Fund to address the UN Commission on the Status of Women, focusing on women’s economic empowerment, and has since gone on to be the first female athlete from her country to have spoken twice at the United Nations.
Alongside all of this work, Shams has recently stepped up in the COVID-19 relief efforts in Pakistan by helping out in her local community and is hoping to make a difference with families struggling at this uncertain time. We caught up with her to find out more about her work.
“I have been involved in such causes for the past six years,” said Shams.
“I have had times when my school fee was paid by different people due to my financial crisis. Whoever would do that for me, it would inspire me to do more for others in return. I started crowdfunding for different students through my social media. I even had a time when someone else bought me racket and in return I started doing that for many fellows of mine and junior players.
“I knew that if our people needed any help then it is this time. I noticed that many people were not aware of the concept of social distancing or isolation and the reason behind it was the daily wages. They could not stop their daily jobs because that would then mean they may die of hunger if not COVID-19. Before waiting for the government to take any steps, I along with my friends decided to do our part. For our wellbeing and theirs. For humanity in the times of crisis. That is when I partnered with the Green Volunteers organization.”
Pakistan, like many countries in the world at the moment, are under lockdown and have social distancing measures in place to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic and Shams admitted the economic effect of the virus has had a huge impact.
“The Government is on its toes from day one for this emergency and the area is not as much as affected health wise but the lockdown and economic situation is bringing up a lot of problems including forced unemployment and poverty.
“It has affected the population mentally. A large number of people are concerned about what will be the situation if the country goes in a complete lockdown. They are more concerned regarding if they stay outside in search of earning then will they even afford to pay the medical expenses or not? Or, if they stay at home will they die in starvation? That is why I along with the Green Volunteers have come to the ground to help as much as we can.
“There are many such organisations working on this issue. I can proudly say that in such a situation the entire country is lending help to each other.”
One of the organisations Shams has been working closely with is Green Volunteers Pakistan in Dir Lower and Malakand. The team aims to help families during this crisis with food and medical supplies and have already helped over 1,000 families.
“It will be nice if people could support us by pledging to support a family to feed. Apart from this anyone can donate to the medical equipment that are required. It’s a global emergency so everyone reading this starts doing such acts on their own in their own communities will be a great support to our cause anyways.”
You can help support Shams and her work in Pakistan by heading to her JustGiving page below.
Just £12.10 / $14.93 can feed a whole family for a month.