Earlier this year, I submitted a project proposal to Bennington College and was awarded a Davis Projects for Peace grant. The project was a two-phase effort to facilitate collective community building in my hometown Karachi, Pakistan. I worked with my teachers and grant advisors to give shape to the idea, design the specifics of the project, and set up a Core Team consisting of myself and a few friends to help with the aspects of accounting, logistics, design and writing.
In the first phase, I conducted a discussion-based workshop for sixteen high-schoolers from Lead High School in Nazimabad No. 4, Karachi. The workshop aimed at developing critical thinking skills and a sense of civic responsibility in these students so they could begin to ask the whats, the whys, and the hows of the problems they see around them, and try to find possible solutions.
In the second phase of the project, the participants of the workshop, along with the Core Team, applied the critical thinking and project management skills they had acquired torevamp and restore the nearby Sehba Akhtar Library, a defunct public library in the region. We collaborated with local policy-makers, leaders and community members to ensure sustainability.
The project has led to the creation of an NGO, which is currently in the process of registration. You can read the blog entries about the workshop sessions and the library restoration here: http://kuchkaro.weebly.com/index.html
-Maliha Ali ‘14