Founder Roshni Helpline
Muhammad Ali is a human rights activist who has been working on child protection issues in Pakistan for over 30 years. He founded Roshni Helpline in 2006 and single-handedly pioneered a unique and highly acclaimed approach to finding missing children.
In 2008, he was awarded the prestigious Ashoka Foundation Fellowship for his outstanding contribution to the cause of missing children. In 2014, he was selected as an Acumen Fund Fellow in recognition of his achievements.
Muhammad Ali’s extraordinary journey as a human rights activist began more than three decades ago when he found out from a neighbor about a fifteen year old girl who had been abducted and raped, and was being kept against her will at a hideout in Karachi’s slums. Although Ali was himself only eighteen at the time, the plight of this helpless girl stirred something deep inside him, and he decided to take matters into his own hands. Risking his life, Ali broke into the house in the middle of the night, and was able to rescue the girl and bring her to safety.
After that fateful night, there was no turning back for the young Muhammad Ali. He quit his job at a garment factory and spent the next several years working with various human rights organizations such as War Against Rape, Women Action Forum, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Shirkatgah and Idaara-e-Aman-o-Insaaf, focusing on child protection and gender-based violence. During this time, he handled more than 1700 cases including rape survivors, torture victims and trafficked children.
In 1995, while working to get a conviction on a rape case involving the mafia, Ali was abducted and tortured, and was eventually forced to leave his family and flee the country to save his life. Nevertheless, his courage and determination led him to return to Pakistan some years later and resume his work.
In 2003, there was another turning point in Ali’s life. He heard about a missing 6-year-old girl in Lyari and decided to help. He spoke to the family and decided to go looking for the girl in the neighborhood. Ali searched all night but did not find the little girl. This was the second time in his life he went out in the night to save a child but, unfortunately, this time it did not turn out well. The girl was found dead the next morning. She had been raped and murdered.
Muhammad Ali was deeply disturbed by this incident and he carefully studied the case. It occurred to him that there was a crisis of missing children in Pakistan and that nobody was even recognizing it as a human rights issue, and nobody was doing anything to find these children or to protect them. He felt he had to step in and do something, so he quit his job working for a Unicef funded project and devoted himself entirely to the cause of missing children.
Armed with his visionary ideas and boundless passion, Muhammad Ali single-handedly pioneered a unique and highly acclaimed approach to finding missing children, recovering them safely often within just a few hours. He founded Roshni Helpline and, though he struggled to make ends meet and support his own family, he kept working tirelessly to save the lives of countless children and to reunite them with their families.
Over time, Muhammad Ali began to get recognition for his remarkable ideas and inspiring work. In 2008, he was awarded the prestigious Ashoka Foundation Fellowship for his outstanding contribution to the cause of missing children. In 2014, he was selected as an Acumen Fund Fellow in recognition of his achievements.
Under his leadership, Roshni Helpline quickly grew into a highly successful and internationally reputed organization, breaking new ground in the field of child protection and children’s rights. For decades now, he has remained a beacon of hope for the most vulnerable children in Pakistan and has continued to astonish all observers with his revolutionary ideas and ingenious solutions to some of the most serious social problems in the world today.
Muhammad Ali continues to lead Roshni Helpline as its President and remains committed to his mission of protecting each and every child, no matter what it takes.