Changing the World, One Family at a Time

For most students, a trip to South Africa is a life changer. But when Nausheen Pasha-Zaidi (Ph.D ’12) visited the Capetown township of Langa last year as part of her Chicago School Ph.D. International Psychology field experience, the lives that were changed most were those of a family she will never meet.

While touring Langa, Pasha-Zaidi noticed the embers of what remained of a home destroyed by fire. This desolate skeleton of a house was surrounded by homes filled with warmth and love; families trying their hardest to better their lives and their children’s future. “The house immediately struck me as misplaced in that area. It wasn’t part of the shanty homes or temporary shelters that we saw in other townships. This was a developed home,” explains Pasha-Zaidi. “It didn’t seem right that there was a burnt façade in the middle of this neighborhood.”

The image of the abandoned home stayed with her long after the 10-day trip had ended. Once she returned from her travels, Pasha-Zaidi was motivated to make a difference and reached out to the Chicago School’s international services to see what she could do to help.  Pasha-Zaidi was connected with TCSPP’s international partner in Langa—the LEAP Science & Math Schools. LEAP’s vision is to transform South African communities by teaching disadvantage youth and members of the community to understand their potential to be positive agents of change. If Pasha-Zaidi could raise enough money to finance the construction, LEAP would oversee that the construction project through their community ties in Langa.

Pasha-Zaidi’s lead an international fundraising campaign that harnessed her TCSPP colleagues and worldwide social network. In the span of seven months, Pasha-Zaidi raised $4,000 U.S. dollars to rebuild the Langa home. With that money, LEAP hired a construction crew local to the area—creating additional jobs in the township. “I learned in the international program to view humanitarianism not as making small changes in a community from the outside and then leaving, but helping people local to their land revitalize their own community,” adds Pasha-Zaidi. “That’s how you create sustainability by helping people gain momentum to do things on their own.”

Thanks to Pasha-Zaidi’s fundraising efforts, the house had been rebuilt and the family has returned to their neighborhood.

Nausheen Pasha-Zaidi is now an assistant professor at the Petroleum Institute in Abu-Dhabi, U.A.E. and adjunct faculty for TCSPP’s International Psychology program.

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