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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Hungry no more



It is not news that inflation is at an all time high in Pakistan and slowly but surely basic necessities including food are getting out of reach of people living below the poverty line. A group of young people from Karachi put their heads together to come up with a way to make essential commodities accessible to needy people of their community. They agreed that one way price of commodities can be decreased is by minimizing the mark-up added to them by whole sellers and shop owners. They named their Social Action Project (SAP) Al Qaim Resource Center (AQRC).

Initially the group pooled in their own resources and started purchasing essential commodities like flour, rice, pulses, and oil in bulk and selling them to needy individuals. An added advantage for the group was that one of the members owns a rice mill. He was generous enough to give the group members sizable discounts on purchases from him and on occasions has also extended a line of credit to them.

The group launched their SAP in a poor area of the city. A stall was set up from which about 20 families were able to purchase commodities at prices lower than the market rate.
According to Adeel Kapasi, a very low mark-up is added to the price to cover expenses such as transport and labor. The mark-up also covers losses incurred by the group such as damaged cargo, cash management errors, etc.

The group was also lucky in finding a private donor who gave the group a one-time donation after hearing about their idea. This money enabled the group to expand their operations. To date 500 families from seven underprivileged areas of Karachi have benefited from this project.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A smile for a rose

Quetta is one of the cities of Pakistan that has felt the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks perhaps more than other places. Quetta has always been known for its diverse population, a rich cultural heritage, and the warmth and friendliness of its people.


The post 9/11 reality of Quetta has been very different: suicide bombings and other terrorist incidents have increased sharply. The region once known for its beautiful landscape and serenity is now associated with a tense security situation and escalating intolerance levels between different ethnic communities inhabiting it.


These incidents are affecting the people of Quetta on a psychological level. People live in a constant state of apprehension. Social gatherings are rare, and people feel isolated and cut off from the rest of the country.


A group of Active Citizens exchanged ideas on how to bring a sense of hope to people and help them forget their troubles at least for a little while. They bought a few hundred freshly cut roses and on a fine sunny day set out to hand them out to any one they came across. Being presented with a rose by a smiling stranger, most people could not help but smile back.










Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Join the Actives Citizens Programme


Join the Actives Citizens programme by contacting the partner organization/s from your community/city to start your learning journey.

PUNJAB

Sr.

Cities/Communities

Partner Organizations

Contact Person/Focal person

Email ID

01

Lahore

Protection and Help of Children Against Abuse and Neglect (PAHCHAAN)

Ms Sara Afzal

pahchaanyouthgroup@gmail.com

02

Lahore, Rawalpindi, Gujranawala , Bahawalnagar, Kasur,

Chanan Development Association (CDA)

Mr Haroon

haroon@cda.org.pk

03

Multan City

Women Rights’ Association (WRA)

Mr Taha Naqvi

taha.wra@gmail.com

04

Multan, Vaheri, Muzaffar Garh,

D.G Khan, Alipur

AWAZ Foundation Pakistan, Center for Development Services (AWAZ-CDS)

Ms Rubina Dewan

rubina@awazcds.org.pk

05

Multan City, Bahawalpur,

RahimYar Khan

Participatory Welfare Organization (PWS)

Mr Aamir Yousaf

aamiryousaf2002@hotmail.com

06

Sadiqabad, RahimYar Khan, Rajanpur

FACES – Pakistan

Mr Raymon Louis

raymon_louis@hotmail.com

07

Rawalpindi, Tobatek Singh

Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN)

Ms Fatima Raja

fatima.raja@fafen.org

ISLAMABAD and KHYBER PAKHTUNKHWA

Sr.

Cities/Communities

Partner Organizations

Contact Person/Focal person

Email ID

08

Islamabad, Swat

Special Talent Exchange Program (STEP)

Mr Ali Shabbar

ali.shabbar@step.org.pk

09

Peshawar, Haripur, Mardan

DOST Welfare Foundation

Mr Kaleem Iqbal

info@dostfoundation.org

10

Peshawar

Institute of Social Work, Sociology & Gender Studies – University of Peshawar

Mr Muhammad Ibrar

ibrarsworker@yahoo.com

11

Peshawar

Community Appraisal & Motivation Programme (CAMP)

Mr Said Afzal Shinwari

Mr Shabir Shinwari

afzalshinwari@gmail.com

shabirshinwari@yahoo.com

12

Peshawar, Charsadah

Social Action Bureau for Assistance in Welfare & Organisational Networking (SABAWON)

Mr Iftikhar Hussain

iftikhar_sabawon@yahoo.com

13

Abbottabad, Mansehra

Sarhad Rural Support Programme (SRSP)

Mr Zubair Anwar

srsp130uk@gmail.com

BALUCHISTAN

Sr.

Cities/Communities

Partner Organizations

Contact Person/Focal person

Email ID

14

Quetta

College for Youth Activism and Development (CYAAD)

Ms Najeeba Syed

info@cyaad.org.pk

SINDH

Sr.

Cities/Communities

Partner Organizations

Contact Person/Focal person

Email ID

15

Karachi City

Entrepreneurship and community development institute (ECDI – Pakistan)

Ms Saira Nizam

saira.nizam@ecdipakistan.org

16

Jacobabad, Shikarpur, Kashmore

Youth Action for Pakistan (YAP)

Ms Rabil

rabail@yap.org.pk

17

Thatta District

Sindh Radiant Organisation

Mr Ghulam Hussain

sindhradiantorg@live.com

18

Sukkar, Khairpur, Larkana

Sewa Development Trust Sindh

Khadim Hussain Dahot

sewatrustsindh@yahoo.co.uk

Monday, June 20, 2011

Say no to drugs project.

Executing Youth Group starts a "say no to drugs" project in Lahore:

Currently, Pakistan is confronting numerous problems. One of the major problems is: addiction/drug abuse. The number of addicts in Pakistan is around seven million; however this number is growing day by day. This is a highly alarming situation for a developing country like ours. A very commonly used drug is “heroin” which is produced from the poppy plant.

The producing region of poppy plant and heroin is our neighboring country Afghanistan and the tribal areas of Pakistan. They have the most lucrative business for drug users. The most convenient and easiest market for the drug producers and smugglers is available and flourishing in Pakistan. These drugs are also smuggled to Europe, America and other countries of the world. However, at present, due to the presence of NATO forces in the region, it’s a bit difficult for the drug dealers to export/smuggle it to other parts of the world. Under such situation Pakistan is the softest target for them.

The money earned by smuggling which the drug dealers earn from smuggling use to fulfill their evil deeds. They also buy weapons to create uproar in our country and to counter any sort of progressive move in the tribal areas in the fields of education, business and tourism etc.

Their main target is youth literacy or illiteracy. The culture of smoking in youth is increasing rapidly. The young people studying in High schools start smoking for fun. We see them in uniforms standing outside the schools’ premises and enjoying smoking individually or in groups. Gradually, they become habitual of smoking which leads them towards drug addiction.

The labor class of children from age 12 and above (sometimes below 12) starts smoking due to various reasons. One of the main reasons for them is the furious attitude of their employers. We see them working and smoking at mechanics workshops, bicycle repair shops, small hotels/restaurants and at other workplaces. In both cases, i.e. students or labor class children, they take advantage of being out of home and out of sight of their parents.

It is not our duty and it is not possible for us to stop drug smuggling business within Pakistan or around the world. But we can educate our youth about the life threatening hazards of drug addiction by carrying out little efforts at right time. Instead of running towards the path of drug addiction they may come back on the right track again to enjoy a healthy life and become progressive citizens of the country.

i) We worked voluntarily for the rehabilitation of flood victims being run jointly by British Council and FACES Pakistan under the title “From Raddi to Rehabilitation”. We collected raddi (old newspapers/other used papers) to generate funds/donation for the flood victims.
ii) We visited Nowshera for a day to distribute different household goods including food items among the flood victims.
iii) We are running awareness programme for young people regarding life-threatening hazards of drug hazards. In this regard we conducted corner meetings with youth.

We also organized a seminar at our residence in Ali Colony Walton Road, Lahore on Nov. 12, 2010 titled “ON THE ROAD AGAIN”. A number of domestic young people attended this seminar and appreciated the objective of our programme.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Raising awareness about blood donations and blood groups in Pind Dadan Khan

The need for safe blood can’t be over-stressed. Every day critical medical emergencies, trauma cases, accidents, require blood transfusions. Women with pregnancy complications, severely anaemic women and children, cancer patients, persons suffering from sickle-cell anaemia, thalassemia and haemophiliac require frequent and constant blood transfusions.




Our aim is to raise awareness about the need for safe blood transfusion and of the critical and voluntary, unpaid blood donations made by donors to various health clinics.






Active Involvement & Motivation (AIM) focuses on voluntary blood donations. A majority of area’s population doesn’t have access to safe blood. Many areas remain dependent on donation by the families or friends of the patients. In some areas, blood donors are still paid, yet evidence demonstrates that voluntary unpaid donors are the foundation of safe blood supply because they are least likely to transmit potentially life-threatening infections. It is to these unsung heroes that World Blood Donor Day is dedicated.



The first stage of the struggle is: making people aware about blood donations. Currently, “Free Blood Grouping Camp” is providing ample of opportunities to create awareness about voluntarily blood donations. This activity also informed people of the duties the state is obliged to fulfil.



The “Free Blood Grouping” has worked with a huge number of women, men and the young people. AIM youth group is also doing campaigns for blood donations, involving the young people in all its activities and celebrations, hoping that the new generation of motivated, non-remunerated donors will create a bank of safe blood which will help save lives whenever necessary.

The campaign believes that young donors will form a long term commitment and help improve area’s safety and requirements of blood supply. Even young people who for some reason cannot donate blood can work as volunteers to advocate blood donations. AIM youth Group initiatives like the ‘AIM Young Club’ does media campaigns focusing on the younger generation and related youth programs.

We intend to work with schools, colleges and universities to form blood donor clubs within the community. It will go door to door to meet people in their respective areas, especially involving youth to encourage them to donate blood, marking an important step in their life.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

We can bring a change!

Fasil Idress, a young boy hailing from Multan has been a part of Active Citizens Learning Journey since 2008. He has done a lot of work in his community. Here's his story of achievements:

Before attending the British Council’s Active Citizens Learning Journey, I had no idea how to engage stakeholders in community work with us, productively. The Active Citizens workshops have helped me explore how to take up and solve the problems developing in my community and how to engage young people into social action projects.

My organisation is called “JAGOO Pakistan Eds” and since its establishment in 2008, it has worked on nine successful projects. We have executed projects on 1) providing free computer literacy, 2) child labor, 3) women empowerment and giving them technical skills, 4) lectures on moral ethics, 5) save our earth, and through stage dramas, we try to change the behavior and attitude of the community people. A unique characteristic of these projects is they are being executed without any financial support.

In the beginning of year 2010, we initiated a project called “BRING A CHANGE” - the purpose which was to reduce gaps between the community people and police, and create friendships between them.

According to a survey conducted by the Vice Chairman JAGOO Pakistan Eds, Rai Zulqarnain, Nadir Shah, are the policemen are faced with long hours of duty time (which is mostly above 18 hours) while they receive a very meager pay for their duties. Besides, the local people don’t pay them any respect either.

Therefore, to bridge gaps, we distributed 3000 appreciation cards and flowers amongst the policemen as a tribute. Apart from this, we also devised a plan to regularly pay tribute to the police personnel who have been injured, died or hurt during any operation.

Also, we decided to distribute a specific cash money and gift hampers to the policemen who were not supported by the government.

Now, the only problem was arranging sponsorships. I choose 60 members from the total 450 youth group members and made six teams who would look for sponsors. But, despite their efforts for two weeks, they failed to obtain even a single sponsor. At times, when our teams approached the potential sponsors, they simply wouldn’t let them in even. For my team and me, searching for interested sponsors was quite an uphill struggle.

There were times, when I was disappointed with the futile struggle and the community members made fun of me. Other times, I was hopeful that something good will turn out and our efforts will pay off. Meanwhile, the data from police stations continued pouring in and we just didn’t know what to do about it.

Finally, after two months of hard work, we were able to secure the first sponsorship from Multan Arts Council in April. This revived our spirits and we informed the police professionals about our first honorary ceremony who got very excited. This reward ceremony was the first-ever held in the history of Pakistan.

We began fixing banners around Multan and formed different teams assigned with multiple duties like, registration team, management team and a team to receive guests etc.

During the tribute ceremony, when JAGOO PAK drama club did their performance, we could see a few tears which proved our hard work has paid of.

Now I know and have proved that nothing is impossible. I am very thankful to my sponsor, Shama Bnaspati, Coca cola, Saeed sop, Khan Enterprise etc. for their inspiration and co-operation.

This JAGOO award ceremony ended at a very high note and we announced the COMMANDANT award for the first time which was won by a civil person for the first time in Pakistan’s history.

The British Council became the first drop of rain, and now many such rain drops are to come in near future.

I would like to thank the open and helpful platform of the British Council and under my father’s and the British Council’s guidance I am further motivated and energized to take up bigger challenges and do more good work for my community.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Meet "Shoukria Raza" as she shares her experiences of Active Citizens Learning Journey.

This is Shoukria Raza from Quetta and I’m pleased to share my learning journey as an Active Global Citizen. I hope it will be a source of inspiration for other young people who are not engaged in the streamlining process of Active Citizens Learning Journey.

As an intermediate student at BISE, Quettta, there are many memories that I cherish in life but the days spent at the Active Citizenship training will stay with me forever.

I approached my life and the world in a typical state of apathy and indifference. The Active Citizenship Training gave me clarity on my role as a citizen of this country and the world. I developed a new sense of thinking and a sense of responsibility toward the development of the country. The contents related to identity and culture helped me challenge my stereotypes and prejduices.

“Our identities are about our own sense of who we are and how we approach the world.” I now not only understand the words in the above line but also their importance. Identity helps build community and a sense of belonging within a more globalised diverse world. It is a fundamental for building trust, mutual understanding, networking and cooperation.

It was an eye opener for me to understand the nexus of individual, cultural, society and citizenship. As a layman, I did not give it a though but when the facilitator at the Active Citizenship training shared its importance, I realized that my contribution can be a source of change in the world.

We all know this was learning journey program for the youth; that is why CYAAD and its partners provided us the incredible opportunity of sharing our views, ideas, and experiences with the youth of other regions. This gave us a chance to remove our fixed views about the people of other cultures, religions and ethnicities.

ACP is a platform where the youth have been provided chances to help those affected by any kind of injustice, violence and networking through social media. It was great for all of us; we regularly updated and shared our views on blog, facebook, twitter etc on the six global issues.
Besides that, I got the chance to strengthen my confidence and my managerial skills when I launched social action projects in my community with support of community members. Through fund raising and utilising the local resources, the SAPs also polished my leadership skills and gave me a way to be engaged within the community.

My fellows and I identified the lack of the computer literacy center within the community. We also saw the need for an internet café exclusively for the women. All CYAAD members gave continuous mentoring and facilitation, technical and financial support for making it happen and at last we did it. We had succeeded in establishing a computer literacy center and internet café in a secure environment for the women of Quetta.

We with the help of CYAAD and community members, we were able to ensure five computers, a printer, scanner and wireless network. Amozgha [a local CBO] working for the development of women provided the internet connection, furniture, curriculums and premises for free.

I personally, on behalf of my group and the women of the district, am thankful to my community, CYAAD and its partner organisation for introducing such a wonderful programme for enabling the youth and utilising their energies to make a better world.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Ragged School in Gulberg II, Lahore

Narrated by Aneel Munir Khokhar:

Our youth group is called “Quaid’s Warriors”. It consists of five members, who are very cooperative and hard working. We all believe in sincerely serving our nation and helping the under privileged citizens. We want to bring a change in Pakistan, we know this is a big challenge but we’re ready to accept this challenge.

Our social action project is to provide educational facilities to the children who are haven’t been to school ever because of financial crisis or due to disability.

We suggested opening a school in one of our member’s house so the students can be comfortable and the parents wouldn’t have any objections sending their children to a teacher’s house.



We are running this school since November last year. We teach children two days in a week for one and half hour. So far, we’ve had 13 students in our home-based school who are polishing their reading and writing skills and are enhancing their global awareness, knowledge about other cultures and traditions.


The students belong to very poor families and some of their parents are even drug addict. Students are very talented and are interested to gain education. We teach the following content to our students:

Education and Global Awareness:

Education has become the basic necessity of life. Through education we can create global awareness which can help us in making this world better place to live.

Basic Education:

It is now very important for every person in the world to get education. Basic education includes the skills of reading and writing. A person should be enough educated to read the basic and normal things in a daily life. And also be able to write at least his name.


Creative Ability:

Every normal person in this world is blessed with a brain which enables to think and understand. The creative abilities are already present in a person. Education will enhance the creative ability of the students by forcing them to think.


Knowledge and Etiquettes:

There’s a saying “Education is the key to success”. Education gives knowledge regarding anything in and outside the world - Universe. Education teaches etiquettes which are very important to groom one’s personality.

Monday, May 2, 2011

From Raddi to Rehabilitation

Narrated by Zunairia Earl West:

We, the members of G-Ranger group, are working with FACES Pakistan” & “British Council” on a project called “From Raddi to Rehabilitation” in Gulberg, Lahore.

In this project, we gather raddi (waste news papers etc) from different sources and hand it over to FACES Pakistan. They then sell the collected raddi to shopkeepers who recycle it. They money earned by selling raddi is donated to help the flood victims and needy people. FACES is accountable for the money by selling raddi and using it for education, food, shelter of those who are under privileged and are in need of assistance besides flood victims.

We have been working on this project since last year and so far our group has collected 347kg of raddi from various sources. We faced a lot of difficulties in collecting this amount of raddi as people don’t easily part from the redundant materials (don't know why!!).


But once people saw our sincere and hard work, they are now readily giving away/parting with their old and used materials so we can sell them and help the poor. People say, “Charity begins at home” but G-Rangers believe that “Charity begins at home but it does not end here” which is why our target is to collect amount of Raddi with which we can help the poor & the flood affects as much as we can.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Basic Education for Children in Lahore

Narrated by Aisa Maula:

We are the members of “Enlighten Enfranchise group” and after attending Active Citizens workshop, we decided to spread education amongst the under-privileged children of our community as a Social Action Project.

Many children in our community are uneducated who spend their time playing and running errands for others. Education is very important for such young children as it helps mould their personalities and is a beneficial asset for their bright futures. We want to serve the community by equipping the children with education.



Enlighten Enfranchise group consists of four members and we strongly believe that it’s every child’s right to receive good education. Therefore, we’ve established a school for uneducated children where we teach them the fundamentals of English, Maths and Urdu. We, currently, have 9 students enrolled in our community school, and six months later we’ll recruit new students to teach.

We teach students for three days a week for two hours daily and give them home-work regularly. We try providing these children the syllabi books, pencils and writing note books too.

We are hoping our endeavours will bring a desirable change in our communities soon and more children will be inclined towards receiving education.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Voting Awareness Campaign



By Active Citizens Youth Group

How many of us vote? To be honest - Hardly anyone! and because we don’t vote, we aren’t very happy with the government in office. “Not voting” during the elections has become more of a trend amongst our community members because they perceive that voting won’t help. Actually, their notions are wrong!! Voting does help. Besides, being citizens of a democratic country, it’s our legal right too.

We figured “not voting” as a major problem in our community and as Active Citizens we had to do something to encounter this issue. Towards the end of Active Citizens workshop, we – eight young people – formed a group and decided to do our social action project around encouraging community people to start casting their votes.

We chose Gulberg 3, Gulberg 2, Ghalib market, Fatehabad Lahore as target areas to spread voting awareness and divided the work equally amongst ourselves. Javeed Yousaf and Babu Server agreed on monitoring and evaluating our project while the rest of us became project executors.



We commenced “Voting Awareness Campaign” by carrying out a research into the voting concepts people have in rural areas. Research helped us in locating the precise problem and we devised a strategy in presenting our counterarguments. We began visiting these people individually - door to door – raising awareness about the benefits of voting and the ways it can impact their lives.

This done, we arranged a get-together for the entire community where we discussed the pros of voting openly and even invited a speaker to further clarify indigenous enquiries.


Most of the community people agreed to cast their votes next time the elections take place, however some were still adamant. We’re endeavouring to convince them too but, at the end of the day, voting would be entirely everybody’s own choice.


An important aspect of the campaign was we bore all the expenses wholly ourselves. We didn’t collect any funds nor did we ask any affluent community member to support us in managing our project.

We sincerely hope our struggle bears fruit and community people begin voting!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Teaching textile skills


One of the finest ways to serve people is to teach them skills. The same enthusiasm motivated the textile designing students of iACT to share and teach their textile designing skills to the young and deserving girls. Hence, they contacted Darul Atfal (Girls Hostel, City District Government Karachi).

Permission was taken from the higher authorities for conducting such a session in the hostel. As a mentor and field expert, Miss Yasmeen Serwar, was engaged who helped the volunteers in designing the outline for the session and also in purchasing the material.

In total, 6 sessions were conducted during the months of December 2010 to February 2011. 3 sessions were on “how to tie and dye and techniques”, whereas 3 were on “silk painting and dying.” Fifteen girls participated in the training sessions along with 5 teachers and staff.

It was our pleasure to see the girls and CDGK interested, as Miss. Zarfeshan Arbab from community development department took special interest and visited the session several times.

By the end of the project, almost every girl was able to dye their dupattas, shirts, scarf’s and cushions covers. It was encouraging for the volunteers to see how quick the result of their hard work was in the form of young talent.
Several samples were put on display in the hostel and different dresses were also used by the girls in order to use it for themselves. We have asked the hostel authorities to provide them material time to time so they can continue their practice and if possible they can market their products later on.

Apart from 20 direct participants in this project, almost 50 people were part of it in different capacities (CDGK management, support staff of hostel, material purchasing, iACT management, girls’ families and friends in school). It was a great experience for the volunteers as well as they got the opportunity to teach for the first time.