Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Do you think the studies you have done/are doing is preparing you well for the current, highly competitive job market?
Do you have the necessary skills that are needed to become a doctor or an engineer? Not just the bookish knowledge, but the attitude and the competencies?
Something to ponder about - uh?
The British Council has just launched its second Dialogue Forum's survey. This time we are talking about "Careers." Yes, we're discussing all the questions that are mentioned above.
We want to know what you have to say. Let us know your career choices by participating in our online survey on "Careers" at: http://www.britishcouncil.org.pk/ .
Remember: NOW is the time for you to sit and seriously think about your Careers. The job market out there is quite tough and with the Great Recession hovering us, job searching has become very candidate's nightmare.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
These dialogue forums will provide young people and the young legislators a platform where they can discuss the pertinent issues which affect the lives of thousands of young Pakistanis and find a way of responding to them at the policy making level. The Young Parliamentarians’ Forum will then collate all the suggestions from these forums and formulate a document which will be presented to the National Assembly, so the issues could be solved.
The latest survey on “Careers: Opportunities and Challenges for Pakistani Youth” will be on the British Council’s website: http://www.britishcouncil.org.pk/ soon.
We are inviting you to the Second Dialogue Forum focusing on “Careers: Opportunities and Challenges for Pakistani Youth” in Islamabad (for ISB participants only).
The event is scheduled on Tuesday, December 21, 2010 from 1630 – 1830 hrs. Please contact Saad Bajwa at firstname.lastname@example.org for confirming your participation and general enquiries.
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
We're launching dialogue forums to bridge the gap between young people and young Parliamentarians, and start a constructive discussion on relevant issues - outlining future recommendations and concrete steps. The Young Parliamentarians Forum intends to collate recommendations from these dialogue forums as a “policy document” to be presented to the Parliament.
There are four thematic areas we are generating a discussion on:
- Corruption: A source of insecurity amongst the young people
- Terrorism: Influencing youth aspirations in having a secure future
- Economic Empowerment: Opportunities for young people to avail better livelihoods
- Political Participation: Young Leaders as Future Leaders
How will it work?
Every month, we’ll pick one of these themes to have a dialogue session on. The dialogue session will take place with fifty to sixty young people face-to-face and will be facilitated by a famous TV host, Moeed Pirzada. The session will be on aired as part of Mr. Pirzada’s show “Dunya Today” on the news channel Dunya News.
We’re taking up “Corruption: A source of insecurity amongst the young people” as the theme for November 2010. You can participate in the dialogue online by visiting http://www.britishcouncil.org.pk/ and helping us find answers to the questions related to Corruption.
Friday, November 5, 2010
We are delighted to inform you the first "Dialogue Forum" will be happening on 09 Nov 2010. The dialogue forum is a series of dialogue events as a follow up to Pakistan: The Next Generation Report. These forums focus on key issues highlighted by young people in the report and provide a platform to discuss these issues with Young Parliamentarians.
The first dialogue forum focuses on “Is corruption a source of insecurity amongst Pakistani youth?” The forum partners are Active Citizens programme, Young Parliamentarians’ Forum and Dunya TV. The forum will be facilitated by Moeed Pirzada as part of his daily show “Dunya Today”.
If you reside in Islamabad/Rawalpindi and are interested to join the forum and contribute your input, please feel free to contact Asif Muneer at email@example.com for more details.
Thursday, October 28, 2010
The young people in Lahore celebrated "five" peace days. Read what these peace days were and how did they celebrate them?
You must have read about Chanan Development Association's (CDA) work on the blog.
A theater seminar on "Peace" was organized on 25th September 2010. Nearly 150 women participated in this theater seminar. The seminar was held in Pak Methodist Church in Nishat Colony, Lahore. Bishop I. Paul. was the chief guest of the program. The community groups coordinators talked about the importance of peace and did activities that showed the females how can they bring peace in their homes and communities.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Joel Henricus and his group mates are working on a SAP called "Awareness for Voting." Read his objectives and the difference he wishes to make.
By: Active Citizens Youth Group
Group members & their designations
Sir Earl West:- Idea of suggestion.
Joel Henricus:- Project manager, & video maker.
Suleman Shaukat:- Video anchor & interview taking.
Raheel James:- Video Editing.
Sharjeel Munawar :- Information gatherer.
Sara Shaukat:- Interviewing of ladies.
Maria Amjad:- Interviewing of ladies.
Sharoon Hamid:- Some Interview taking, & project helper.
And Everyone participated in decision making & area suggesting.
Summary of (S.A.P) “Awareness”
The project “Awareness” from our Active citizens youth group , is to make people of backward areas or those who are illiterate, “aware” of the actual issues that should be for the welfare of their community and the country. (e.g.) to make people aware of the vote casting of any level of the political elections, that they should vote the right person who knows the correct procedures and ways to run the issues concerning their community..And our main purpose is to make every man & woman in any particular area to be aware in that issue and use their vote in the right place because one vote can bring someone up or down.
Aims & Objectives
To make people aware of the issues concerning that they may vote for the right person.
To create a passion & desire in them to vote, because this is the responsibilities of every citizen.
To encourage the youth & guide them to vote & elect a right person for their country.
The people in the backward areas or illiterate people think that they should not vote & do not participate in any elections, so that’s why we need to aware them because that’s their obligation and a lots & lots of people need awareness in those areas, so legally that’s their need.
And they need to be awared if we do not do it someone else should.
The people nowadays have started to think that all the political leaders here in Pakistan are fraud as in saying..somehow that’s true & somehow that’s not. And that’s not it, they also have came to a point that they will not vote any longer. So we have guided them and awared them that they should vote and elect such a person who will be beneficial for both the community & the country..so by that they will have the following benefits.
They will have a good leader.
Their community would be prosperous.
The future of their children will be better than before.
The country will have an uprising development process.
Action plan or Methodology
Firstly our action was to visit the backward areas & find about the thought of the people.
Then we have done door to door visit & interviewed them.
And with the interview we have created an encouragement to vote for the right person.
Then as the day suggests we arranged a small Eid-Milan Party for people in those areas to create a positive effect of us on them.
And with that we also shared some conversations with them which was awaring for them & they further have exploited it.
Monitoring & Evaluation
We monitored ourselves as we did the project step by step. And after the project was completed we surveyed to those people in which we were working & checked our checklist, And the result was positive, they said we were really nice & helpful to them. The people were most likely to vote for the best person.
Thursday, September 9, 2010
The video shows young SoL (School of Leadership) volunteers playing with the children who are residing at Razakabad flood relief camp.
The SoL volunteers visit this relief camp every day and spend quality time with the flood victims. The ideology is to work for the “well-being” of the victims. These young people believe that providing meals and shelter isn’t relief exactly. Relief means that we work for the physical and mental contentment of the flood victims. They are battling a calamity therefore, they’re bound to be mentally upset and pessimistic about the situation.
If we spend some quality time with them, play with their kids, educate them, provide their men and women employment opportunities then their agonies could be subdued to some extent.
Sunday, September 5, 2010
You must have read AIM's previous community work stories on this blog, they're an organisation working in Pind Dadan for Women Rights, Women and Children Health and Female Education. Now, they've taken it upon themselves to record the voices and opinions of local people to the authorities and transmit them to the government.
AIM met with the local government and discussed the problems of flood victims with them.
Friday, August 20, 2010
“I’ve lost every thing in the flood,” he said gloomily. “Things were fine when I left for Fajr prayers. At around 8.00 am water gushed into my house and its level kept rising; I had no choice but to leave. This camp is the only shelter my family and I have.”
His wife, Ammat Bibi is equally distressed. With tearful eyes she told us, “My eldest daughter was to get married this December. We had long saved for her dowry, but now it’s all destroyed. Besides, my youngest daughter has developed acute malaria. We’re lucky they’re providing us timely free medical assistance here, otherwise she would’ve died.” Tears began rolling down her cheeks.
SPO is a local NGO and is partnering with the British Council to deliver Active Citizens workshops in Hyderabad. It has engaged a large number of young people in the workshops - many of whom are volunteering at this medical camp and participating in fund raising.
We met with Sheraz Chandio, SPO’s representative, he informed us they’ve purchased more than 50,000 medicines ever since the camp’s set up and 4 doctors are on duty 24/7. “We’re trying our best to provide people as many facilities as possible. We’re providing them food, clothes and medicines. We’re also trying to pump water out of houses so these people could return.”
Taking a look around the camp, we noticed many morose faces and defeated souls – each with a heart-breaking story to tell. No one had even anticipated that a sudden calamity would change their lives forever. Sons have died, daughters are missing families lost, homes gone and the land’s covered with stagnant water as far as you can see.
It’s time we show solidarity and help our brothers and sisters – “generously”. Give alms-donate food, clothes, shoes, spare a handful of flour next time you make Chapatis – perhaps you’d save some one from starving.
Acres of crops were destroyed, the flood water was 8 to10 feet high and people were forced to abandon their homes, half submerged in water. Children were crying in hunger, the old were sick and the women were desperately trying to save as many of their household items as possible. Their condition brought tears to our eyes.
Once we found a dry spot, we parked and began distributing the food packets amongst the people. Men, women and children rushed towards us appealing for help, some were begging and shouting, some were weeping, while others were praying to God. We distributed all the food packets we had, but felt awful for turning away those who came late after the stock was finished.
Our work, though, is not nearly done; the scenes we saw have been etched in our minds forever. My team and I were disturbed to see our brothers and sisters struggling to survive this colossal catastrophe and we want to help them as much as we can. So we are planning another trip to Muzzaffergarh with 1000 food packets this weekend.
By Farhan Siddiqui and Zoya Khan
Thursday, August 19, 2010
These desolate people are going through extreme hard times. I was introduced to a woman who has lost her husband and two daughters in the flood. She’s sheltering in our camps with nine daughters – all relatively young.
“How will I take care of nine daughters alone? I’m not even educated to earn my living,” she said, tears flowing down her cheeks.
I met young girls who hadn’t eaten for days, their mothers were missing and had no where to go. We saved three such girls and have asked Edhi to take care of them until we find their mothers.
The Special Talent Exchange Programme (STEP www.step.org.pk) has established an Information and Support Centre for the flood affected people across Pakistan.
The Support Centre will:
Identify disabled people in the flood affected areas
Ensure accessibility of sanitation and food distribution in shelters
Re-linking displaced disabled persons with their families
This Information Support Centre is working 24/7.
Please contact STEP for any information about flood victims on the following addresses:
SMS (Text): +92-(0)308-5004569
Your response in any form would be of high value!
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
I've been associated with the Active Citizens Programme since January 2010. You know the recent floods have played havoc with our country; we - The Active Citizens - trying to help our fellow citizens as much as we can.
We also began a chain of mobile messages - forwarding it to all our contacts and requesting them to forward it further. With every one's help and support, we've been able to raise Rs 25,000/- so far.
We searched for a reliable source and found the "World Food Programme Agency"- a relief providing body in Pakistan. We approached them because, we felt, they were genuine. They were kind enough to agree to take our items to the flood stricken areas.
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Active Citizens Pakistan organised a workshop in Quetta and after that, a group of young people undertook the task of dissolving some challenges – if not all - that people with disability face every day.
A youth group called “DOST” led by Faris Mughal, launched a campaign to spread awareness about the issues of disabled people. He organised a “peace walk” which made people realise that handicapped people too, exist in the society, and have the rights to participate in community matters.
“Disability is not a curse. We’re a part of this society too, and have all the rights to make our voices heard. People should treat us like any other normal individual – so what if we’re on wheel chair or have sight impairments - we shouldn’t be pitied, instead we should be encouraged and appreciated,” said Faris Mughal, who has a disability himself. He looked very passionate and was trying his level best to bring a change in the way people think about invalids.
Another purpose of this walk was to provoke the masses to make their houses, offices, markets, shops and even mosques disabled friendly. Faris narrated that majority of shop keepers don’t pay the same level of attention to disabled people, as they do to those who’re “normal”. At times, the shopkeepers behaved offensively and shrugged them off.
He divulged, “After the peace walk, I’ve noticed a change in the way people think about us. They don’t signal us off any more; instead, I’ve seen that they are paying us more attention. They listen to us and pay heed to our needs. They’ve stopped using offensive terms too.”
Faris and the “DOST” group have been successful in securing 11% seats in Balochistan Assembly. This has been the group’s greatest achievement so far. They are planning to introduce educational and employment reforms for disabled people which is going to ease their lives, a lot.
“We’re very happy on this success! I’m one of the 11% members who are representing disabled people in the assembly. I’ll try my best to make the educational institutes, shopping places and roads disabled friendly. I’ll show that invalids are as good workers as normal people and they shouldn’t be slashed from the working class,” Faris informed about his future plans, hoping that doors of success will open for the handicapped people.
We wish Faris and DOST group all the best for their efforts! They’re a ray of hope and role models for all the disabled people across this country.
Monday, July 26, 2010
If Yes! – how about some further training, newer ideas and meeting a whole lot of like-minded people from around the world?
The Global Change Makers are accepting applications for their Fifth Annual Youth Global Summit from 21-27 November 2010. Its once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for all the passionate teenagers (mainly those who’re between 16 to 19 years) to broaden their horizons. If you fit this age bracket, apply for the "Global Change Makers" now!
You’ll get a chance to attend high level events like World Climate Conference, the Clinton Global Initiative University and World Economic Forum events in Davos, Cartagena and other places around the world.
You can apply for the Youth Summit Conference in four easy steps:
1) Register on the Global Change Makers website: http://www.global-changemakers.net/register .
2) Wait for the activation email which should arrive within seconds of registering.
3) Sign in the website.
4) You’ll find the application – fill in and submit it online!
You stand a great chance to become a Global Change Maker. Don’t miss it!
The last date is: 6th August 2010 – HURRY UP!!
Sunday, July 18, 2010
No need to hold the Magazine, No need to keep the Copy "Safe n Sound" from Coffee spilling or pages tearing!!!
You can now read the British Council's Newsletter Online!
Yes, just log on to our website and have a go at it...
Follow this link to your online copy : http://www.britishcouncil.org/pakistan-newsletter-summer-2010.pdf .
You can't lose it now!! :)
Congratulations!! Your project, Active Citizens Pakistan, has won a "British Council Staff Award 2010" :)
It’s because of your efforts, your comments and participation that Active Citizens have been given this honour.
I'd like to thank you all for your hard work and support!! The projects that your have started - some are mentioned on this blog too - are simply superb and manifest your love for Pakistan.
Keep up the good work and keep these Social Action Projects running - who knows you might just win another award?! :)
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Ali attended a workshop organised by us (British Council's Active Citizens Programme) back in January 2010 and founded “The Awakening” an organisation that raises awareness about community issues amongst the youth. The workshop involved different activities, lectures, and social interaction with young adults from different localities and schools of thought.
“The Active Citizens programme provided me the platform I had been searching for. I realised that it is we [the youth] who can make the difference, and this difference is my hope for the future”, says Ali manifesting his enthusiasm to bring a change.
We were flooded with applications as soon as we announced the Offscreen Expedition and Ali’s application was amongst the short listed ones. Our interviewers’ got hooked with his passion to serve the local communities immediately, and were pretty impressed with his composition “Duniyadri” that reveals a young person’s fears and confusions about his religion, family and society.
Ali’s efforts paid off when he was selected to join the Off Screen Expedition team to the UK. “This is the platform of learning and education that I had been waiting for. I hope to make the most out of this journey by interacting with artists, musicians and writers, all working for the same cause and the love of humanity.” A very happy and eager Ali expressed before the start of the expedition.
We have selected 5 other young citizens from Karachi and Lahore for the Offscreen Expedition. These youngsters along with youth from Middle East and UK will travel through London, Birmingham and Yorkshire exploring cultures, religions, environment, music and politics.
They will use the latest communications technology to create a visual travelogue of their ‘expedition’, broadcasting their experiences live via satellite to their peers in hundreds of classrooms in their countries.
We’ll hear from Ali soon and he’ll give us an insight to what’s been happening in London so far and how the English are responding.
Till then stay connected to this blog space, but if you’d like learn more about the Offscreen Expedition and read daily updates from the team, please visit: http://www.offscreenexpedition.com/ .
Monday, July 12, 2010
I hope you enjoy reading the heartening stories of Social Action Projects that young people are running.
We'd love to hear your comments on their efforts, your suggestions and your stories....
Also, you can share how you feel for your beloved Motherland, since 14th August isn't very far!!
So start writing and show your support to these industrious youngsters :)
Happy Reading and Writing...
Sunday, June 27, 2010
The question that comes to one's mind is: What are these activists doing then? Why aren't NGO's helping these women?
We can't answer these questions, but probably deep inside we all know the answers; however some young people have taken notice of the appalling situation. These young people have developed an organisation called "AIM" and are spreading awareness about "Women Rights" in the rural areas of Pind Dadan Khan.
The AIM group is led by a young person, Ubaid Malik.
"I attended the British Council's Active Citizens Workshop and gained the passion and enthusiasm to do some thing for my country. I know many other young people are working for environment, education and career counselling for youngsters. I saw the women are deprived of their rights in Pind Dadan Khan. This looked like a great opportunity to spread awareness about "Women Rights" and even practice them," Ubaid indulged in a detailed explanation about his reasons of spreading women rights' awareness. He spoke with a conviction that is hardly found in any political leader's voice.
Hence, he induced practicality to his ideas and started campaigns where women were informed about their basic rights. These campaigns were organised in a village meeting areas called "Bethaks" which were easily accessible to the females. Many of them were shocked when they found they had the rights to acquire education, vote and even earn their own living.
"I thought we - women can't gain education, i always thought our lives were bound to revolve around household chores and serving men," an elderly village women said shaking her head in disbelieve. There was sadness in eyes as she further added, "I spend my entire life with no education. Now, I want my daughters to be educated for sure."
Ubaid Malik and his AIM colleagues did a poll during the campaign. They asked the women to clap if they (women) think they are given all the rights which were under discussion. Unfortunately, there was a very faint clap which indicated women weren't given those rights! Many women unanimously said they would clap after today, when they would go back home and protest for their rights!
Such an enthusiasm was infused amongst the women of Pind Dadan Khan.
Ubaid and his fellow friends have done their work, they have spread awareness and knowledge. All we need to do is hope these women accomplish to practise their rights and gain freedom!
We wish the women of Pind Dadan Khan all the best in their efforts!!
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
There were Planeteers too, helping save the earth from the bad guys. Captain Planet would always say, "The power is yours..."
Well, there are a few youngsters who seem to be carrying Captain Planet's legacy forward. They call themselves "The Emerging Light" and are working to save the environment from man-made disasters. The group attended Active Citizens Workshop and got inspired to do something for their country. This group has started working in Multan, raising awareness about environmental pollution and its hazards.
"We put quite a lot of thinking into starting to work for the environmental problems. We thought when will the citizens of this country realise they are harming the atmosphere brutally? They are chopping the trees, their cars emit black smoke, they use plastic bags which take ages to dissolve," said Sana Kunwal, a member of Emerging Light when we asked her the reasons of starting this project.
The Emerging Light group held exhibitions in different colleges and their university, displaying paper and cloth bags and encouraging people to use them, instead of the cheap and readily available plastic bags. They've even launched a campaign to abandon plastic bags in their university.
Besides environmental work, these young people are striving to help those who can't afford expensive medical treatments. The group has signed contracts with various pharmaceuticals who provide them free medicines and vaccines to distribute amongst the needy people. This way the group is helping community people too.
"We are endeavouring to make our communities healthier. We want to save the elderly and kids from 'death due to sickness' as they couldn't afford treatment," said Farhan Siddique, another member of The Emerging Light group.
Way to go young Planeteers and remember: "The Power is yours...!" :)
In Urban cities, mothers-to-be are given numerous facilities like ambulances, constant and undivided attention by the female doctors, the family's usually supportive and so on. Our media is also playing an important role in raising awareness about the do's and don'ts while one's expecting.
Nonetheless, females in the rural areas are still deprived of these life-saving conveniences. Many couples rely on Mid-wives only, who aren't well equipped in dealing with the complicated delivery cases. As a result, the mother or the new born dies or in some cases, both.
Therefore, to combat the increasing percentage of female deaths during pregnancy, Channan Development Association (CDA) has decided to step forward and take action.
"We decided to help the women who are expecting because we noticed an alarmingly high rate of pregnancy deaths. Awareness will do women good," Alyas Rahmat explained his reasons for starting a project of such nature.
CDA executed a three month project called "Save Pregnant Women and Infants" at Nishat Colony in Lahore. They held seminars and group discussions - raising awareness about the precautionary measures that should be taken during the pregnancy and at the time of delivery. They encouraged couples to seek medical assistance at the right time, rather than delaying and involving Mid-wives in child birth.
We interviewed Alyas and he informed us about the execution of his project. "Government dispensaries have agreed to arrange free medical assistance for females. They've started counselling couples and so far 7 out of them have agreed to regularly visit the lady doctor. Apart from this, Dr Shahida is going to do free routinely medical check-ups of the pregnant women between 4.00 till 6.00 pm, twice a week," he said with bright eyes and a proud face.
The work that CDA has undertaken is very important for the development of a healthy society. Only healthy mothers can give birth to healthy infants.
Mother and infant health is one of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) identified by the United Nations. I'm very glad that our youngsters are promoting and working towards MDGs.
Sunday, May 23, 2010
He recalls, “I was inspired with the concept of Active Citizens introduced by the British Council and decided to do something for my community. Hence, I started a "Free Computer Literacy Center" in my home with only one computer.”
“My inspirations were my students, I was extremely happy when two of them got jobs because of the skills they’d acquired in my Literacy Center. This boosted my confidence and I involved more young people into another project called “Think Green” through which we are endeavouring to rehabilitate a community park - by planting trees and getting rid of the trash,” Faisal commented.
Since September 2009, this youth group has executed a number of tree planting activities in different parks and streets, involving many young local people. This initiative was noticed by the forest office and they started providing JaGoo Pakistan free plants and assistance.
The members leading “Light of Wisdom” are: Hamid, Farhan, Shazia, Nadir, Noman and Faiza.
Faiza justifies reasons for starting the "Light of Wisdom Project" and says, “During Active Citizens training, we learnt every issue can be resolved by using the resources that are available locally. We- the youth- is the power that can bring a positive change in society. We are thankful to British Council and Youth Parliament of Pakistan for providing us this platform.”
JaGoo Pakistan has more than 300 members working in different communities - utilising resources and planning to begin other Community Development Projects too.
Recently, a Bilateral Xchange took place between Lahore/Multan and Scotland, UK. The Scots visited all the projects under JaGoo Pakistan’s umbrella – Free Computer Literacy Center, Think Green Project and the Light of Wisdom- and were extremely impressed with Faisal and his group’s efforts. They wrote emails to Faisal which they said:
“I am very inspired to see your work. When I had heard about your work, I didn't believe that you could run all these projects simultaneously?
Kate Finally said in her email:
“One thing that I observed and learnt is: your youth group is very cooperative with one another and that’s a sign of unity. When you work on something, unity is very important to bring a change. I really enjoyed the plantation activity - when your team cleaned the park and we planted different types of plant in the soil.”
Neil Burn said:
“Amazing, JaGoo Pakistan is an amazing youth group. I am very inspired by your IT education work, sewing center, think green, child labor school etc- no body could have done this but you!!
I am glad to see your work. The project child labor school makes me very sad. We are very glad to see that these children were studying in your school.”
The group visited an orphanage located in Kashmir, where approximately 100 orphans are being looked after. They discussed the possibilities of spending a day at the orphanage with the institution's teachers. The teachers gladly accepted their offer.
“I was a little nervous to run the activities we had planned. What if the children didn’t like them? What if they got out of control? There were plenty of “what-ifs” in my mind, but thank God it turned out pretty well. Kids thoroughly enjoyed each session and the teachers have requested us to come back soon with many similar activities,” commented Zakia when I asked her about pre and post session feelings.
The Silver Lining group put kids into absolute action when they introduced numerous communication, arts and crafts, painting and team building activities. It was heartening to see happiness on every child’s face; their faces glistened and it seemed that even God was enjoying with the kids. HE had opened every channel of happiness for them!
“We enjoyed as much as the kids, and this activity has boosted our morale to work for humanity,” said Haider Ali, a member of the group.
What made this trip even more special was the presence of two English ladies- Alice and Mary, who were visiting Mirpur as a part of Bilateral Xchange. They were very impressed to see the Pakistani volunteers helping these orphans and themselves participated in some of the activities.
The Bilateral Xchange gave English an opportunity to see the Social Action Projects running in this part of the world and how numerous people are been influenced every day through them.
Friday, May 21, 2010
“It is a dream project that pays attention to "Personal Hygiene and Health awareness" in slums children and the students of Middle Government Schools,” said Nimra, a member of HOPE. Other members are: Danish, Talal, Basit, Ahsan and Zeeshan.
The youth group started their “HOPE project” by visiting slums areas near their university and delivered some very interesting and interactive sessions on Health, Hygiene and Cleanliness to the slum kids, who absolutely loved this practical education. These young community champs also assessed the living conditions of slum kids, their activities, their every day problems and developed strategies to help them overcome their shortfalls.
After careful observations, the young team has decided to engage slum kids regularly in health and educational activities.
Their group leader Talal said, “We want to focus on the people who are neglected by our society at a larger level i.e. slums. We want to give them basic awareness about their health and want to make them realize that they can be become active citizens for their community too. We’ve started by targeting the children so we could groom and activate them.”
The group has also engaged Parents, School Administrators and Community Leaders who are helping these young volunteers to make this project more sustainable and feasible.
The young volunteers are giving "HOPE" to the slum kids that there is a "HOPE" to survive!!
Thursday, May 20, 2010
But why are they doing this?
Because every year numerous precious lives get wasted due to these killer diseases, and the locals aren't much aware about the causes and prevention of these diseases, let alone seeking remedies.
The village is located near an industrial area. This is the very place where red bricks are baked and are supplied to the entire country for various construction purposes. The poor village men and women work day and night diligently to bake as many bricks as they can to earn more money, as they get paid for every brick they bake. Unluckily, these innocent creatures aren't informed that the chemicals they use in baking bricks can and does cause skin cancer.
Hence, the free medical camp provides skin check-ups and prescribes patients free medicines too. The preparation for each medical camp begins at least a month before it's execution date.
The young people working on this project calls themselves "Angels Youth Group". The angels begin their work by looking for funding. It isn't an easy task to generate funds since not many corporate organisations are willing to work in this part of the village. The group goes from door to door, asking for funds and liaises with pharmaceuticals for medicines and vaccines.
"It has always been a task to obtain sufficient funding for this sort of medical camp, where we need at least 300-400 Hep B & C vaccines and three skin doctors to examine all the attending patients. The doctors work with us on voluntarily basis hence reducing costs slightly, but we purchase the medicines," said Murtaza Shaikh explaining about funding.
Once, the funding has been attained, the next phase commences, where the youth group looks for a place to set the camp. They bear in mind that the camp should be accessible to every one and should be organised on a holiday such as Sunday so that maximum number of people can benefit from this benevolent act.
This task is a tad easier than the previous, however requires a lot of communication. The best and easiest communication method these days is the "cell phone", however the numerous, ever-increasing bills are paid by the group itself.
"It takes a lot of money to communicate over cell phones. One of our members goes to the city to purchase medicines and vaccines. He stays in touch with the rest constantly. Secondly, one of us co-ordinates with the local authorities for camp's place and logistics that are required. Thirdly, one of us becomes in charge of Marketing the Camp and any issues are communicated via phone. So you see, phones are the prime way of staying in touch," justifies Adeel Shah giving us an overview of how they get things working- the team working is absolutely superb!
Once the camp commences, managing it becomes a priority for all the members. They look after all the patients visiting their camp, allotting them token numbers to keep law and order in place. The doctors and volunteers are provided free refreshments and lunches during the medical camp.
The medical camps are Angels Youth Group's way of working for humanity and reducing their problems. Through these camps they have managed to treat many patients who were suffering from Hep B & C silently, and saved precious lives of those who could have been potential targets of killer diseases.
So far more, they've organised two medical camps, and more than 1000 patients have received treatments. Angel Youth Group is aiming to have another medical camp next month, through which they believe they will save more lives.
The rationale behind this project is to develop their teaching methods and meet increasing needs of the pupils. This is achieved through the mentoring and counselling of primary teachers (in order to gain better understanding and easy to do since they are less in numbers).
The job of counselling is undertaken by group members who are teachers themselves, and have access to wider information pool and material through the Active Citizens platform and/or other partners. This is vital to facilitate the improvement of quality education in terms of structuring the syllabus and critical thinking among the students.
Since the Teachers Association, is one of the largest associations in the division, lack of proper teaching methods and knowledge transfer is very minimal; therefore the group supervises knowledge transference from teachers to students, helps improve and polish the teacher’s interpersonal skills and lastly helps the community through producing evolved teachers that can pass it on to others.
The group has collected ‘Feedback Forms’ filled by teachers and students as a form of measuring the success of the project. Teachers are being tested in terms of their teaching experiences before and after the training sessions, whereas students were asked to share the differences between pre and post counselling.
We have all seen it and at some point in time also been party to it.
A group of 7 people realised this problem and decided to help their community men. The group had attended Active Citizens workshops and started a project on creating awareness about traffic rules via walks, posters and open discussions with the passerbys about do's and dont's of driving/biking/cycling and parking.
They endeavour to clear the major artery of the city’s main market, which will not only allow increased flow of shoppers (improving buying power) but also provide safe and uninterrupted commute for passengers.
Although still in its infant stage, since the project was conceived a mere 2 months ago, the group has managed to create considerable contacts for future endeavours; for example an agreement with a shop owner to build a proper parking plaza nearby. These contacts will go a long way to help sustain this campaign; and in turn increase participation by members of the community like youth, drivers, transporters and concerned shops.
Sustainability of the project is also being funnelled through keeping police officials updated in regards to enforcing traffic laws and streamlining the driving license procedure. This will help generate awareness of proper parking among the masses with proper monitoring, and help in measuring the success of the project.
The group has also been able to generate enough funds to finance arrangements and preparations for banners, organizing walks and holding meetings (travel and equipment costs) by themselves.
Saad attended a "5- day Active Citizens workshop" back in January 2010. During an activity-where participants were asked to identify their community problems- he realised that eye aliments are a common problem in his community. Many people are suffering from different eye diseases and they don’t consult doctors, either due to high fees or simply due to the lack of awareness about eye diseases.
Saad wanted to help these silent suffers, however, numerous hurdles lay in way. No funding, no moral/physical support, no doctors, and no medicines – in short nothing was available.
“I haven’t had the slightest of idea of how things will work when I decided to run a free eye camp during the workshop. Nonetheless, I stayed firm with my decision and started discussing my vision with my workshop mates. Luckily, they understood my idea and we began working for eye camp together,” said Saad.S.Hussain, a bachelor student.
The ride wasn’t very smooth as Saad had initially thought. He approached a corporate organisation “The Maximizers” and presented his proposal. Corporate organisations aren’t an easy catch, but his persuasion, enthusiasm and sincerity made them succumb to his vision. They finally agreed to help in financial terms.
Together, Saad and “The Maximizers” began looking for a government school to set the camp, but before that, there was another major obstacle to overcome. They had to arrange for Eye Specialists who could administer the patients voluntarily.
Where there is a will, there is a way- Indeed; The Maximizers contacted “Khalid Eye Clinic” and after much persuasion they agreed to participate in the eye camp voluntarily. They provided two doctors and three junior doctors to provide professional medical care.
With combined efforts, Saad, The Maximizers and doctors from Khalid Eye Clinic set a Free Eye Camp at Rehri Goth in February 2010. They accomplished to treat 300 patients for eye ailments and asked the patients with serious eye problems to visit the clinic for proper and complete treatment.
Another eye camp is planned in June 2010, where the team is expecting to treat more patients free of cost for eye ailments however this time round Saad didn’t have to persuade anyone.
Well, every one’s classroom doesn’t look the same as yours and mine. It could be a scary, prison-like, torture room with teachers’ having a don’t-you-dare-speak-a-word attitude. The government schools usually foster such classrooms without even realising the damage they’re causing to the young pupil’s career and at times, damaging their personalities for lifetime!
One person has taken a step to tackle this serious situation. She’s committed to bring a change. Change: in government classrooms, in teachers’ attitude and most of all – Introduce English Language in the grey-and-white environment! She’s become a true "ACTIVE CITIZEN" after attending British Council's Active Citizens workshops.
Rabia Shaukat, a young girl from Lahore, is an emerging entrepreneur who’s venturing to begin a “Surprise Packet Company”. As the name suggests, it’s a company that generates surprises! We all like surprises, don’t we? Except that her surprises aren’t materialistic. Her surprises focus more on improving the quality of life that people in her surrounding live.
Rabia is worried about the fate of the students studying in government schools; therefore she has decided to visit Boys High School, Township regularly. Her surprise for the pupil is: introduce them to a foreign language called “English”.
“I’ve always observed the students graduating from the government schools. No wonder, these kids are left behind in today’s cut-throat competitive world as they hardly know English and have no hands-on information about the current economical and political situation of the world,” Rabia comments.
Rabia indulged in a chain of conversations with the school’s headmaster, who, after numerous explanations got convinced that what she’s doing is for the betterment of his pupil.
Rabia started by observing every English Language lecture given in the school and gives feedback to the teachers. She advises them on bringing creativity and innovativity to English Language teaching; encouraging teachers to speak English as much as possible.
Simultaneously, Rabia’s also trying to introduce new English Language books in the current curriculum so the kids can have a variety of books to read from and improve their English.
Though, it has been less than a month that she’s initiated this, her surprise is already gaining momentum. The teachers’ and headmaster look pretty content with the way she’s bringing this commendable change. But most of all, the pupil seem to enjoy it.
“Kids are enjoying learning English Language. They are eager to read English books though are a bit shy in speaking English. I’m endeavouring to improve their writing, reading, listening and speaking skills. They are very bright, I’m sure that correct guidance will make them future Active Citizens of Pakistan,” Rabia replied when I asked her about the impact of the work that she’s doing.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Half an hour later: Saad emerges from the board room, exhilarated. He’s very happy and confident that the judges are convinced of his Social Action Project (SAP) being sustainable and dynamic.
Saad and his friends from a group called “The Maximizers” are one of the eighteen contestants vying for the Active Citizens award. Their SAP revolves around the prevention of Cataract- a killer eye disease that is rampant in the remote areas of Karachi.
We arranged Social Action Projects interviews on Tuesday 27 and Wednesday 28 April for all the short listed contestants from Karachi and Hyderabad. There were 5 SAPs from Karachi and 13 from Hyderabad altogether. Each group was allotted 20 minutes to make presentations about the work they were doing for their community’s welfare and answer judges’ inquiries.
It was overwhelming to see each group’s energy and passion to make their communities a better place to live in. If one group was providing free medical assistance to the needy, the other was endeavoring to save Mother Nature.
“Who will help our neighbors if we don’t? Most of them aren’t aware about the causes of Hepatitis B & C, let alone seeking medical assistance for these diseases,” said Murtaza Shaikh, who organizes free medical camps in the rural areas of Hyderabad and vaccinates the locals for Hepatitis B & C.
“This country belongs to you; you need to take care of it. We can show you the path, to accept it or decline it - is your choice,” encouraged Shireen Naqvi while speaking to the youth groups. She was thoroughly impressed with the efforts of young people and offered them her project mentoring services for free.
Mr.Shoaib Siddiqui personally visited each stall and boosted the morale of the stall owners. “The efforts of young people are very inspiring, motivating and productive. I refer to British Council’s Next Generation Report every time I devise a strategy for the youth, trying to make good use of this very rich and abundant resource. My department is striving to utilize this “opportunity window” for the benefit of this country and I can see that the British Council is already doing it very successfully,” he expressed while commending our efforts.