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Youth peace entrepreneurs in Pakistan

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Youth peace entrepreneurs in Pakistan

A look at the story of Ali Raza Khan and the work of his organisation, the YES Network, with youth peace projects using cricket in Pakistan, by Zahid Shahab Ahmed.

[This article first appeared on the Insight on Conflict website.]

In 1997, Raza Khan took a job with Family Planning of Pakistan as a facilitator of youth sexual reproductive health programmes. While conducting workshops, orientation sessions, and training of trainers throughout the country, Ali began questioning the effectiveness of his work. Although evaluations showed increases in the skills and knowledge among participants, Ali knew that they faced significant constraints in benefiting fully from these gains.

“Those young people sitting in front of me had so many other things to think about,” he recalls.

“They have poor parents, they don’t have medicine, they don’t have enough money to pay their electricity bills, they don’t have anything to eat, and I’m trying to pour wisdom into them.”

Ali had heard countless young people questioning their purpose and value in society. These experiences inspired Ali to try something different. So he resigned from his job and launched the first-ever youth-led development movement in the country, YES Network Pakistan. YES sought to provide young people with practical entrepreneurial experiences, seeing the people as the most promising resource available.

YES’s remarkable success has seen it introduce its concept of Youth Social Entrepreneurship in over 1,200 technical institutions in the country, integrate this concept into the curriculum of over 175 leading vocational and educational institutions, and work with over 90 leading universities. Ali has designed and launched numerous exciting, innovative and award-winning youth engagement projects which have helped children and young people to overcome the social, economic, psychological and emotional problems which prevented them realising their potential.

YES’s Social Enterprise Competition for Peace in Schools project is a good example of this approach. The project recognises the effectiveness of experiential and participatory learning, providing young people with opportunities to establish social enterprises that could play an important role in promoting peace.

Shah Mehmood lives in the Federally Administrated Tribal Area (FATA) of Pakistan – a region notorious for Taliban infiltration. With limited facilities and opportunities, young people in FATA are at high risk of becoming involved in violent criminal activity. In this challenging context, YES supported Shah Mehmood in establishing a cricket academy. This remarkably successful project has produced outstanding local players, several of whom have been selected by the National Cricket Academy of Pakistan for further training. Mehmood’s project is a youth-led solution, providing a platform for vulnerable children and generating income for those coaching. These are the sort of creative solutions that the YES Network seeks to develop.

It is hoped that Ali's story will inspire youth organisations around the world to similar feats. Ali envisions young people as part of the solution rather than the problem, and as a major untapped force for bringing peace and positive change to communities.

About the author
Zahid Shahab Ahmed is Peace Direct's Pakistan local peacebuilding expert and a postdoctoral fellow at Deakin University in Australia.


[This article has been edited by the Operating Team]

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Article type

News

Author

Zahid Shabab Ahmed

Published

Monday, September 5, 2016 - 23:00