Lahore Students Union (LSU) held a community service volunteer meet-up event at Books n Beans, in Lahore.
This was the 2nd event held this summer, a routine part of LSU’s Community Service initiative that seeks to engage and motivate Pakistan’s youth to volunteer and work for the betterment of fellow citizens and society as a whole.
The event started with a keynote speech by Major Tahir Wadood Malik (retd.), Founder of the Pakistan Terrorism Survivors Network (PTSN). On 5th October 2009, he lost his wife in World Food Program bombing in Islamabad. Since then he is on a ‘crusade’ against terrorism. He spoke about survivors and how they coup with the sudden loss of their loved ones in a terrorist activity.
A panel discussion was held with the team members of 3 selected projects for the LSU Youth Social Leadership Program (LSU YSLP) 2016-17 Child Empowerment Association of Pakistan (CEAP), Riqz and Aghaaz.
Founder of CEAP Tahmina Shahid enlightened the audience about child abuse and sexual abuse. CEAP is carrying out awareness programs in various schools and plans of training teachers and parents to bring awareness in children. ‘In plain sight – a documentary on child sexual abuse in Pakistan’ is their latest video that has been put up on youtube to educate people.
Aghaaz is a school started by A Level students Sobaan Qadeer, Zahidullah Noori, Tashfeen Shahid, Hamza Majeed, Rameen Iftikhar, Momina Afzal, Fatima, and Saad. Aim of Aghaaz School is to teach children courses such as critical thinking, arts, and dramatics. They aim to not force ideas or give a concrete sense of right and wrong, but to encourage curiosity in children to figure out for themselves the essence of their beliefs. They have had astounding results over the last year.
Rizq is an NGO started by 3 LUMS students: Musa Aamir, Uzaifa Ahmed, and Qasim Javaid. They began their venture in 2015, making use of surplus food from restauraunts, households, and events such as weddings, and distributing it to those in need. About 40% of the food produced in Pakistan is wasted, where 65 million people reside below the poverty line. They want to bridge this gap by channelizing the excess food to the poor. They operate in Lahore, Islamabad, and are working towards beginning their operations in Karachi. They provide poor and hungry families with food at a minimum price of Rs. 10 per meal, which is an innovative way of giving them a degree of self-respect, knowing that they are able to purchase food instead of just being given it.
In another panel discussion representatives of ‘Pehchan’ working for Transgenders, ‘Taabir’ and ‘Parwah’ working on education and ‘Ride for Life’ working for safe drinking water, spoke about their projects as they are the new batch of LSU Youth Social Leadership Program (YSLP) 2017-18.
Justice Nasira Javid Iqbal made her concluding remarks by praising the youth for such inspirational projects and told them of Allama Iqbal’s vision of a truly democratic Pakistan. She also said that the upcoming generation of Pakistan is very promising as they have leadership qualities, are educated and want to improve things around them.
Unlike previous workshops that featured panel discussions with popular NGOs, this workshop’s panel featured previous LSU volunteers who started their own social impact projects. These initiatives are under the umbrella of the YSLP (Youth Social Leadership Program), and all of them are doing work in their respective sectors. This aims to inspire fresh interns with the success stories of those who once sat in the same seats that they currently occupy, but who have started contributing to society through their hard work, creativity and innovative strategies for development.
LSU’s CSI has hosted 900+ volunteers over the years since its inception in 2013-14, who have worked with 60+ NGOs, civil society groups and social development organizations across Lahore. Such volunteer meet-up events are organized to give young people an opportunity to learn more about the people and projects that are working to build a strong, peaceful and prosperous Pakistan at the grassroot level.
Reporter. LSU launches Community Service Initiative 2017. The Nation, August 6, 2017.