#ProjectMustakbil

Few weeks ago while I was scrolling down my instagram feed, I found this really cool initiative called ‘Project Mustakbil’. I messaged the owner to tell me the details, and turns out I was talking to my friend Sana Hameed.  She was my batch mate in the architecture school. I had just met Sana a while ago, and she told me about an initiative she was working on, following her thesis in community development. I didn’t know at the time I messaged the initiative’s page that this was the one. She graciously invited me to a session as a volunteer, and I couldn’t help but say yes, because I was super- touched.

The session I went to took place at a school near NIPA called, Al-Nafees Scholars Academy. In the start I was nervous, but as soon as I entered the school, a bunch of happy chattering children came running, they shook hands with every single volunteer and said salaam. The nervousness died and I had a very warm fuzzy feeling in the heart. The day was all about the children and their activities. Three classes were going on simultaneously, with three different activities. There was reading, writing, art; and science discussions. The activities would change after every half an hour. We spent almost two hours at the school. The kids bid us goodbye by shaking hands. Some of them asked me, if I will be returning. I said yes, because I really wanted to. Although honestly I didn’t go the next week because I was sick and, Well all the blogging events are on Saturday, but I have pledged to myself that I shall be a part of this initiative at least once a month. I will make sure I return to them.

Like the other things I preach, I highly stress on ‘giving back to the community’. I would highly recommend giving yourself a break, and be with the kids. Teach them what you know. If not teach, then just talk to them, instil positive energies in them, broaden their imagination. Most of all, Inspire them, so they could be better humans. It really works. I remember once Talat Hussain came to my school in Rawalpindi, and he gave a little talk on journalism. It still is one of the inspirations of my blog. The memory is so strong that even though it has been 12 years, I still think about it. You could be someone else’s Talat Hussain. You could become someone’s reason to become an engineer, a pilot, an artist, or maybe perhaps a humanitarian.

Since people have asked a lot of questions about the initiative. I thought I should answer the basic questions. Also the picture story defines the activities.


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It took me a while to absorb the whole excitement of the place before I started taking pictures. This is from the English class. They were studying alphabets.

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The volunteers made sure they gave individual attention to the children. Some would call them over, and try to understand; so they could be part of the class activity, others would call them to show what they have made, beaming with happiness.

WHAT is Project Mustakbil?

Project Mustakbil is about empowering the under-privileged, so that they become sufficient on their own. Every week different places and activities are chosen for different sets of people. The key focus is on women and children. 

(Excerpt from the document provided by the head)

 Vision

Mainstreaming the marginalized by investing in human development and community empowerment, 

Aims and Objectives

The Project has set forth for itself some clearly specified aims and objectives:

Aims

  • At a broader level, the initiative aims at engaging with socially and economically marginalized communities in Karachi city for building capacity for self-help and human development leading to improved livelihoods
  • The initiative specifically aims at empowering women by building capacity for livelihood support and investing in health and education
  • A critical focus is aimed at the children and youth with prioritizing interventions for improved health, education, and skills enhancement.

Objectives

  • Improving income generation through value addition in existing livelihoods or in building capacity and access to alternative livelihoods and promotion of entrepreneurship
  • Women empowerment with skills enhancement and improved education and health
  • Empowered child for future sustainability by investing in education, health and skills enhancement

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In a time where the attention span of individuals has reduced to 8 secs, the children at the school were so eager to learn, they were trying to stay as attentive as they could, trying to be a part of the class.

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Female enrollment in schools is much lesser than males in Pakistan. The gender discrepancies are quite drastic. Most of the females drop out in the secondary school. When I was talking to the little girls, they felt that they could be way more than a house wife. They were awed by the fact that women are doing so well. They hadn’t really met women who did amazing stuff as men did.

WHO is behind Project Mustakbil?

There are four constants behind this initiative, Mr. Farhan Anwar (Architect and Urban Planner) , Mr. Sameer Beg (Marketing Manager), Miss Sana Hameed (Architect) and Miss Anam Rafiq (Urban Planner). The rest of the team consists of collaborative individuals and volunteers.


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Every kid is different. Some of the kids just need an extra push! I could feel joy, when they felt like their teachers (the volunteers) believed in them, and would constantly try to teach the right way of doing things.

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This is the part I hate about being a photographer, sometimes the moment is so intense, that you just want to witness it, and not take a photo. In this case however, I did take one. I love her expression, but i disturbed the other two.

WHEN do the sessions take place?

The sessions take place every Saturday, from 3pm to 5pm.

There could be additional days, perhaps Sunday, depending upon the opportunities.


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Writing and colouring task. Learning and Fun!

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This volunteer is my favorite. She was a full time mommy. It does not matter if you have a corporate job, you freelance or you are a home-maker, the idea is to willingly take out time and give out to the community. Be there for people who may not say that they want you, but they do. They want you to be there.

WHERE does it take place?

The only established thing there is that they cover Karachi. Rest, depends on the projects they are working on. They visit different communities. It could be different schools, healthcare facilities or skill centres.

The one I went to was a school near NIPA. The one following that was a school in 13D Gulshan-e-Iqbal. The one before that was a heat wave awareness session at Mehmoodabad. The venue keeps changing, but the team is very supportive. You will not face any problems.


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This activity was everyone’s favorite. Making planes out of pegs and ice-cream sticks, painting them and then consequently, playing with them. Some of the kids won’t attend other classes because they wanted to keep doing this.

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// The most eager of them all // You know that kid in class who sits at the front, knows every answer, if not, tries very hard to know-it-all, YES he is that kid. There is so much potential out there. It makes me sad to know that there are almost 25 million boys and girls between the ages of 5 and 16 who are not in school.

WHY should we volunteer?

There could be a thousand reasons for you to volunteer. You need to find your own motivation. Looking at the state of Pakistan, I think the love of your country and making it the best should be your primary motivation. But it could be anything else.

  • to share a skill
  • to get to know a community
  • to demonstrate commitment to a cause/belief
  • to gain leadership skills
  • to do your civic duty
  • satisfaction from accomplishment
  • to keep busy
  • for recognition
  • to donate your professional skills
  • to have an impact
  • to learn something new
  • to make new friends
  • as therapy
  • to do something different from your job
  • for fun!
  • to be part of a team
  • to be an agent of change
  • because of personal experience with the problem, illness, or cause
  • to stand up and be counted

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And this is my friend Sana. The one I was talking about earlier. She is a humanist from the heart. The ones who actually practice being one. She loves Abida Parveen and travelling!

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I am sure the ‘Chai wala’ was a handsome young lad, but so is this boy! Mischievous and a darling, How about we invest some money on his upbringing and career as well? if not money, then perhaps time.

HOW can we help Project Mustakbil?

I emphasize on being a ‘volunteer’. Other than being a teacher, you could also help in a number of different ways, such as devising curriculum, be a teaching strategist, be on the managerial team, etc etc. You know your true potential, you can tell them how you would like to be a part of this initiative.

The other thing is ‘donating’. If you don’t have time to volunteer, perhaps you could help them generate the monetary funds. And it doesn’t have to be just money, you could buy stationery, books, etc, and give it to them. I assure 100% transparency. And to answer alot of my friends, Yes I trust them wholeheartedly.


 

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“Give a girl an education and introduce her properly into the world, and ten to one but she has the means of settling well, without further expense to anybody. ” ― Jane Austen

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//Story time with Noreen Fatima// I, as a child, loved story telling sessions. It was an alternate reality. I could be anything and nothing was impossible. I developed the habit of reading from that, and till date it is still my alternate reality.

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I’d like to give a huge shout out to Sameer, who may come off intimidating at first (Sorry Sameer), but is actually a very down to Earth person and has an amazingly beautiful heart! He is the backbone to this project. If you have any queries, you may ask him again and again, and he would reply you gladly.

…So, take what’s inside you and make big, bold choices. And for those who can’t speak for themselves, use bold voices. And make friends and love well, bring art to this place. And make this world better for the whole human race.
— Jamie Lee Curtis

This quote has always made so much sense to me. We need to make bold choices and take bold steps to make Pakistan a better place. A part of me wants to sit down and derive a self-sustenance community model for the under-privileged, such that they never need us. But right now, they do. and it is a responsibility to reach out them. I have been fortunate enough to receive an education, make myself, but they did not, and this is where I need to share my education with them in some way. My education is not mine, it is ours: the community. At-least that’s what I think.

I am leaving all the social accounts of #ProjectMustakbil! If you want to volunteer or donate, You can contact them. I hope to you see on one of their sessions!

Until Next Time, which I assure you, is very soon.

-A

P.s: If you still have questions, leave a comment at the end of them blog. I would get back to you as soon as I can.


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