(Founder and CEO)
Born on September 30 1987, Ayesha always dreamt of a utopia of sorts since she was a little girl. She never understood poverty or inequality or discrimination in any shape or form and she would become indescribably depressed and increasingly saddened and disillusioned by the world around her.
However, that just added fuel to her already very determined fire of doing something about the situation.
Ayesha has been rescuing animals since the age of 5, ranging from coloured baby chicks to birds sold in claustrophobic tiny cages to set them free, to dogs and cats, goats, cows and donkeys.
She started a makeshift school for the house staff’s children in the neighbourhood when she was about 5 years old as she firmly believed that considering they are so close in age, it’s only fair that they all have the same education and chances in life. The evenings were spent teaching them what she had learnt in school during the day.
Ayesha was always aware of her privilege in life and she always believed it was her fundamental duty in her lucky position in the world to use whatever she has to help others.
Her first volunteering job was at an orphanage in Karachi when she was 10. She wanted the kids to have a fun summer like she was lucky enough to experience so she would write skits and produce plays and do arts and crafts with them.
Since then, Ayesha has volunteered at numerous institutes for people/children with special needs, orphanages, slum schools and also headed a refugee camp of 700 displaced people in Islamabad after the 2005 earthquake in Pakistan. She also initiated clean-up drives to better the environment in the slums.
With 17 internships under her belt, ranging from theatre to newspapers, news channels, digital media and creative writing, Ayesha holds 3 degrees from the UK that she completed with honors and distinctions. Her undergraduate degree was a Double Major in English Literature and Philosophy followed by a Masters in Arts in International Journalism (Broadcast) and finally, a Diploma in Humanistic Psychotherapy and Counselling. She is a licensed psychotherapist with the BACP (British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists).
She founded ACF when she was 25 years old after returning from the UK where she worked as a Journalist and Producer for documentaries based in the UK and on her return, for films locally and internationally as well. All films centered on humanitarian issues from childhood sexual abuse, drug addiction in children to women’s’ jails and so on.
As a Therapist, apart from having a private practice, Ayesha has worked pro bono with acid burn survivors, children/people with special needs, children in drug rehabilitation facilities and orphans and their carers.
Empathy and compassion are the centre of Ayesha’s vision for the future. No one must ever feel helpless or alone to the point of giving up, she believes, and focuses on those who often struggle to belong or find a space in society.
ACF was created on the basis of her vision of no man left behind. But in this case, it was not just limited to man. No person, no animal, no living being left behind, especially those that are misunderstood and neglected by others and don’t fit the norm of society.
ACF was founded on the belief that all living beings have the right to live a life of dignity and respect in an empathic environment conducive to enabling them to live as the best and truest versions of themselves.
Such a place was finally created. But it’s not a one-man operation. With the constant support and passionate dedication of a fantastic, like-minded team and a myriad of generous and amazing donors who believed in the cause, ACF went through countless struggles and highs and lows to manifest a reality of this all-inclusive environment. Nothing is possible without teamwork and the ACF family spend day and night working together to help in every way possible.
ACF’s shelter for neglected street and working animals, the empathy learning centre and the several outreach models that ACF has produced are in line with this vision of helping the community and all its inhabitants together to fulfil that childhood utopian dream of paradise that has resonated and connected with so many more people and is now a mission bigger than a childhood dream, a mission that is carried in the hearts and minds of the ACF family and those who support and donate to the cause locally and internationally.
‘For many of us, it has become and will always be the way of life. And we cannot be more grateful to all those who have united to make this possible’ – Ayesha Chundrigar