Brief on the Sohan Village Project
I had been planning it for a year now. Class room discussions led to concrete action eventually. The challenge for me was to motivate my students to act. Finally, students and faculty of Iqra University and NUML in Islamabad, Pakistan have started a campaign to fight poverty and illiteracy in adjacent rural areas. We have chosen Sohan village, very near Islamabad, as our first test project. We have already distributed sewing machines to a number of very poor families. The girls stitch their clothes themselves under adult supervision. The next step would be to start a small weaving/stitching center for them. Parents are very reluctant to send girls out. This is a very conservative village area. There are security concerns also.
If, and when, we get the sewing and stitching center established then we will setup a library. Hopefully, girls will get interested in education. At the moment their parents are simply not interested. Survival is the utmost concern there. The poverty is appalling and few care to do anything about it. There is a blatant failure of the state to deliver vital services and the failure of civil society to fill in the gap, to say the least.
What can be done in these dismal circumstances? Why cannot people change for the better? Why do they depend on others to help them out? Such questions need to be asked and answers pondered upon. It is easy to talk about community mobilization and grass-root activity in class. In reality things are different. In fact, change management is not easy at all. My students shall learn these lessons first-hand. They need do go out and see the reality of poverty in the country. They also need to do something about it. That is the spirit of the whole project. Of course, I shall take notes all along and write a report later.
On April 9 (Friday) we will take our field trip to Sohan village at 11.00 am. Transportation provided by Iqra University. NUML faculty and students will join also. Two faculty members from Iqra University are also going with us.
We are inviting you to join hands with us. I will keep you posted on the developments