When a Great Tragedy Turn Into A Great Hope

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On a Saturday morning on October 2005 the earth started trembling and vibrating savagely under the feet of the residents of the Northeast Pakistan portending that a great tragedy was on its way. The land of Kashmir, already bleeding and scarred by an endless conflict between Pakistan and India was once again in the eye of the cyclone. This time it was the hand of nature that was knocking brutally on its door. The Pakistani Kashmir was shattered by an earthquake that caused almost 80,000 deaths and left homeless another 4 million people.

It was this great though tragedy that moved Asim Nawaz Abbassi to realize the importance of mutual support. “I still remember the day when me and some of my friends collected donations and other material and got them to the affected areas of Kashmir”, he remembers. He was still a student at that time. “Although that damage can never be replaced, it developed welfare spirit and a need for volunteering within youth of Pakistan. I was one of those people who realized the magic feeling of satisfaction after helping the needy”.

This feeling became onwards his life motivation for social change. A few years later he was establishing the Leads Foundation, a NGO based in Islamabad. The organization serves four main goals: better education, development of awareness, enhancement of democracy through which “a nation can flourish” as he says, and empowerment of leadership qualities of the ones waiting for a miraculous support.

Speaking about social change, Asim recognizes the great need for improved education in his country. ”The educational system is not up to the international standards”, he explains. According to the CIA World Factbook Pakistan’s rate ranking is 199th in the global scale with only 57.9% of the overall population being able to read and write. The score is one of the lowest in the world creating a great need for better educational inclusion.

While checking for more facts, more figures seem equally disheartening. The annual Global Competitive report 2014-2015 published by World Economic Forum suggests that Pakistan has one of the lowest enrolment rates in the world (132nd). It is the estimated that almost a quarter of children do not join the primary school.

Young people who have the potential and desire to excel lack behind. So LEADS is small effort to fill the gap.” By running for example a primary school in the rural area of Rawalpindi district, LEADS is able to provide subsidized training to around 60 students who cannot afford education in private institutions and would otherwise have no access to education.

Projects like this are the cornerstone of the Foundation. “Volunteers and other young people specially from rural areas get engaged in activities like leadership training programs, seminars and workshops to get them the courage to express their potential and deliver to society. We also use social media to reach youth in different areas of the country.

Leads Foundation has not big funders backing up its effort. All in all it depends on the good intentions of its volunteers who are mainly students collecting the essential money for the continuation of the projects. Same as Asim when he started back in 2005, the youth engaged in LEADS Fountation works for the prosperity of Pakistan.

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