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Monday, January 17, 2011

The problem of eve teasing in Mongla, upazilla in Bagerhat, Bangladesh

Eve-teasing is a term that most of the Bangladeshis are very well aware of. Eve teasing is the physical/verbal harassment of young girls by boys in public places and - you know that harassment leaves one feeling quite uncomfortable, physically as well as mentally.

Hence, the young Bangladeshis who had attended the Active Citizens workshop decided to tackle this problem, so that their younger brothers and sisters could lead their lives peacefully. They began a social awareness movement by first contacting their local upazilla (lowest tier of government administration) vice chairman and the local police authorities. They convinced them to help with the problem. Soon, the local authorities agreed to help these young participants and from there, the movement began picking up the momentum.

Young people held public awareness sessions, organised walks and streets shows and even went to the extent of identifying a few "eve-teasers" in localities, who were the actual problem makers. The Active Citizens organised mentoring sessions for them and explained them how teasing was devaluing their (eve teasers) credibility and how it was hurting the younger generations' personalities.

A very interesting and successful thing that happened after the mentoring sessions was: many eve teasers returned to the young Active Citizens and confessed that they have realised the negative side of teasing and that they won't be doing it again.

Our Active Citizens in Bangladesh have succeed in bringing about a positive social change. What are you doing to help your communities?

Friday, January 14, 2011

Let's light up the streets.

The Active Citizens workshop in Gari Taj Mohammad, Peshawar, were attended by more than 35 young people, some of whom were electricians by profession. The workshop motivated them to work for their communities and bring a positive social change. Hence, they decided to use their skills as electricians and replace the street lights on the streets that are most frequently used.

The skillful Active Citizens identified the areas where street lights were broken and started collecting the money to purchase new street lights. They began replacing the broken street lights with the new ones and the communities where they had done so began experiencing a positive change. The pedestrians found it easier walking along the streets, the crime rate decreased, enhancing the ambiance of the community.

The community members thanked this young group of electrician Active Citizens for their initiative and efforts. They had seen that the efforts of a handful motivated citizens had brought a positive change. Their perceptions changed about working for the welfare of community people.

The next step that these motivated young people are planning on taking is cascading the content of Active Citizens workshop to their electrician colleagues in the nearby vicinities. They want the spirit of Active Citizens to spread out and far.

Educating the street children in Peshawar.

Approximately, 10% of the street children in Peshawar are from the areas of Abdara (according to DOST survey on street children 2008). Majority of them are not availing formal education mainly due to poverty as they are the only bread earners of their families. Risks including safe survival on streets, health issues, physical and sexual abuse (both commercial and non-commercial), scavenging rubbish tips, begging, engaging in hazardous labors, drug abuse, drug trafficking and street crimes are lurking before them.

To reduce these risks and make the street children active citizens of the future, the young people who participated in the Active Citizens trainings have initiated a project of establishing an informal educational centre for them.

The Active Citizens held meetings with the local community members and convinced that an informal education centre needs to be established for the street children Secondly, they approached the parents of these street children and informed them how important it was for their children to go to school.

After this, the group of young active citizens identified a suitable place for the establishment of the education centre followed by deciding the syllabus and teachers for the institution. They found an empty suitable place for the institution within Abdara and decided to keep the syllabus very basic.

Once the institute had established, the group began registering the street children in the informal education centre. They enrolled around 20 street children. The young social workers begun teaching them and till date their education centre has 50 registered street children receiving education free of cost.