Monday, July 29, 2013

Fundamentalists/Yet Ghazi's Courage for Peace

‘There are three things of which God disapproves, cunning plans, waste of goods and excessive requests. And three are the enemies of my religion. The fundamentalists, the fundamentalists, the fundamentalists.’ Prophet Muhammad Al Bukhari XX1V:53(2)_____ _This article below was published in Pakistan in ‘The Express Tribune with the International Herald Tribune’ _Peace-building: Training youth to be good sports By Sarah Munir / Photo: Farahnaz Zahidi Published: July 27, 2013 _.KARACHI: From the tender age of eight to ten years, these children, seeing anger and violence all around, think violence is the only way to survive. On grounds of gang allegiance, language, ethnicity or religion, what they do best is fight! _From the rolling mountain ranges of Swat to the narrow crevices of Lyari, youth in Pakistan is at risk everywhere. Lack of resources and opportunities coupled with problems like extremism and ethnic clashes, exposes the young people in the country to a wide range of problems. As a consequence, they often become disillusioned, indulge in drug usage and even resort to criminal activities in certain instances. _In one such neighbourhood, the infamous Lyari, a man born and bred there, understanding the sensibilities of his people, started an initiative for conflict-resolution among youth and children, especially boys. Small activities at school like sharing lunch boxes and writing welcoming messages in each other’s languages to build empathy has helped change the mindset of many a youth in Pakistan through his efforts. _“The biggest problem is that we don’t engage our youth or provide them with platforms to express themselves. The failure to teach them to deal with basic things like conflict at a young age, manifests itself in full-blown violence once they grow up,” states Nadeem Ghazi, President of Peace Education Welfare Organisation (PEWO), an organisation working actively towards promoting peace and tolerance within the youth of Pakistan for the past seven years. Ghazi spearheaded his project with a single school in the area when he witnessed problems like rampant bullying, abusing and intolerance within his students. Seated in his tiny office, tucked away in a narrow lane in Kharadar, Karachi, he candidly admits that he had nothing but resources like Google at his disposal at the time. _It was during this online research that Ghazi stumbled across Peaceful Schools International – a Canadian organisation that supported schools with similar objectives across the globe. With support from PSI, Ghazi soon expanded his operation and emulated similar practices across various schools in Karachi. The organization also partnered with various schools in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), including the one where teen-activist Malala Yousafzai studied. _“Young people in areas like Swat are more vocal, and more aggressive in comparison to the youth of Karachi. It takes a lot more time for children in Karachi to open up and express themselves,” explained Ghazi. He elaborated that while the nature of the problems facing children in K-P were different from those that plague the youth in Karachi, the solution was similar-engagement and harnessing their energy for positive change. Ghazi hopes to venture into the troubled province of Balochistan in the near future as well.

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