Uswah Alpial and Mina Bilal create Breaking Barriers Organization


Underprivileged kids in Pakistan can learn English through the non-profit organization Breaking Barriers Through Education created by Uswah Alpial, a junior at Plano West. 

In January of 2020, Alpial visited her family village in Rawalpindi, during her visit to Pakistan. While she was there, she went to view the school, The Government Degree College of Women, Sahil. Alpial then spoke with the principal of the school, who explained the challenges the students had experienced as they dropped out of classes and pursued subjects that they weren’t interested in because it was difficult to understand the textbooks they were given in more advanced classes.

“The moment she told me, I thought it was outrageous that the students couldn’t accomplish their aspirations due to something as basic as a language barrier. That moment I knew that I had to take action, so I approached my best friend, Mina Bilal, and we began Breaking Barriers Through Education,” said Alpial.

After Alpial’s trip to Pakistan, the idea of teaching students in Pakistan remained a mere idea for a solid eight months. She officially started the organization in October of 2020.

Once she decided to take action, Alpial approached Bilal, the co-president and head of operations of the organization. She reached out to Diya Dharani, the Director of Outreach, and to Zehra Jafferey, the Director of Curriculum, for their assistance in order for this organization to be as effective as possible.

“All three of them had faith in me and the project, and collectively, we all began to make our initiative a reality,” said Alpial. 

This organization was founded over a year ago and has gathered a group of diligent and dedicated members from Texas, New Hampshire, Chicago and New York, who are all  working towards a single goal- to provide free English lessons to the underprivileged students of Pakistan. In the last year and a half, the organization has been able to give students opportunities that were out of reach before. They have expanded to three schools, and over three hundred students in the last year and a half.   

“Through the long-lasting relationship we built with the students and staff members in this time, we have developed deep connections that will last us a lifetime. As teenagers, we have been able to create a real change in the lives of the underprivileged while learning something new about ourselves and our organization with each coming day,” said Alpial.

When they started out, there were a few obstacles that made their work difficult. For starters, some of the villages had limited bandwidth. That made virtual zoom classes hard to access for many of the students at the beginning of their lectures. Additionally, time zones in the U.S. and Pakistan are different. In order to create a working schedule and teaching platform that would appeal to both U.S. and Pakistani staff, Alpial and members of her organization have had to compromise with their partnered schools.

In order to create a working schedule and teaching platform that would appeal to both U.S and Pakistani staff, Alpial and members of her organization have had to compromise with their partnered schools. Breaking Barriers has partnered with two schools in Pakistan, The Government Degree College located in a rural village in Rawalpindi, and a non-profit school in Khanewal called Mark Grammar school. 

“With the Government Degree College, we create weekly video lectures and utilize worksheets for the students and with the Mark Grammar School we use zoom as our primary teaching platform,” said Bilal. 

The students in Mark Grammar school are between the ages of 4 and 6 while the students at the Government Degree College are between 17 and 20.

“This highlights a key part of our mission statement in aiding the leaders of tomorrow, regardless of age, through the expansion of their education today,” said Bilal.