Gang-wars and gun battles are the images conjured up by the name of Lyari, perhaps Pakistan’s most dangerous urban ‘war-zone’; but deep inside this trouble-infested district of Karachi is a haven of peace – the Kiran School.

As you enter the lane, you know it’s a world away from the rest of the neighborhood. Painted butterflies and flowers greet you, as do eager children inside the school compound, conversing fluently in English.

The brainchild of Sabina Khatri, Kiran Foundation admits toddlers as well as older children, grooms and trains them for a couple of years, then helps them to gain admission through scholarships to Karachi’s well-known private schools, long considered the domain of the elite classes.

Kiran Foundation kids are at present studying in St. Michael’s Convent, Happy Home, Habib Public and HeadStart, all with the help of private donations.

The objective of Kiran is to help these kids see a world beyond the grim one they reside in. They’re no less smart and talented than their more privileged peers, and through this initiative, they too, can dream big.

The parents of these children are also encouraged to broaden their horizons and are involved at every stage of the child’s journey. Mothers, in particular, participate hands-on in any activity that will help their children gain a foothold in the world. Wanting to keep up with what their kids are learning, many mothers come in the evening for grooming and basic English classes. Fathers, too, must attend the parent-teacher meetings.

Learning is not confined to the classroom only. The students often go on day-trips to parks, museums, exhibitions, concerts and movies.

Through Kiran Foundation, windows of light have opened in the dim and obscure lives of many Lyari kids; when they’re armed with a quality education instead of guns, doors of opportunity will open wide too.