‘Project Cleanup for Peace’: Youth take charge of streets as agents of change

Published: September 24, 2012

Initiative: Participants of ‘Project Cleanup for Peace’ cleaning at the Jinnah Avenue in Islamabad. PHOTO: MUHAMMAD JAVAID/EXPRESS

ISLAMABAD / LAHORE / KARACHI: 

They stomped the streets bearing trash bags, brooms, paint and good intentions.

In sheer number, they might not have been impressive but they came out to fix what was broken with smiles — and lots of enthusiasm.

The idea was to nurse back to normality streets and neighbourhoods which were burnt down during Friday’s violent protests against an anti-Islam movie which caused widespread anger across the Muslim world.

They repainted walls, picked up trash and cleaned the streets — simultaneously in Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi.

Islamabad

Around 100 students, young professionals and members of civil society gathered in front of the Serena Hotel to take part in “Project Cleanup for Peace” — a one-time initiative taken to fix as much as they could.

The project was initiated through an Islamabad resident’s social media efforts. Brainchild of Faran Rafi, the cleanup project kicked off in the three major cities at 10 am and continued till 1 pm.

Participants swept parts of Khayaban-e-Suharwardi in front of the Serena Hotel and the adjacent green belt with brooms. They picked up trash and other items damaged during the protests.

Talking to The Express Tribune, Rafi said: “I’m surprised that so many people have turned up for the event. I didn’t even expect there would be an event when I first tweeted about the clean up.”

On Friday, protesters had set fire to a duty room in front of the hotel, which belonged to the DSP of the Islamabad Traffic Police. Project Cleanup participants removed the ash, soot and debris from the room and painted the walls of the rooms and a nearby police check post which was also damaged.

Islamabad Police Inspector General Bani-Amin Khan also visited the area and appreciated the efforts. “We are very encouraged that civil society has come out today on its own to help the police,” Khan said.

“You have proved that Islam doesn’t promote or provoke violence,” Rafi said, thanking the crowd after a candlelight vigil.

Karachi

Only 40 people out of the 4,000, who pledged to join the initiative on Facebook, turned up for Project Cleanup.

But the number of volunteers did not matter. Youngsters, mostly students, with their brooms swept the streets and dumped trash in garbage bins. The project started off from the heavily-damaged banks and went on to clean the restaurants.

“Even if five people are cleaning up, it’s enough for the country,” said Alishba Siddiqi.

Maria Qureshi had brought her two children to be part of the campaign. In a green cricket jersey, six-year-old Rania said dusting with a broom taller than her: “If I can clean up, so can other children.”

Lahore

“We wanted to tell the people that the manner in which the protests were held were wrong — we are equally hurt by the film (Innocence of Muslims) but instead of violent protests we decided to clean up the streets,” said 21-year-old Ali Ayyaz.

In Lahore, he said, since all the major rallies were taken out on The Mall, there was a need to clean up the area. “We focused on cleaning Davis Road which leads up to the Press Club – areas which were targeted during the protests,” he said.

Although there was a lower turnout than expected, nonetheless 50 people showed up during the three hours of cleaning.

As the day ended, 21-year-old Yawar Aziz hoped that the initiative will force people to rethink their actions.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 24th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (31)

  • non-sense
    Sep 24, 2012 - 10:59AM

    Safai nisf imaan hain… “Cleaning is 50% of your faith”. Now one can easily understand who is real Aashiq-e-Rasool SAW.

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  • MAK
    Sep 24, 2012 - 11:01AM

    good deed no comments. Bad deed 100 comments. Wow to hypocrisy

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  • SFLahori
    Sep 24, 2012 - 11:01AM

    Awesome

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  • Naeem Siddiqui
    Sep 24, 2012 - 11:24AM

    Well done brothers/sisters! You are the real Ashiq-e-Rasul (PBUH), we are proud of you:)

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  • KM
    Sep 24, 2012 - 11:30AM

    if everyone in PAKISTAN would become like this .. but many wont even share this page ..

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  • MN
    Sep 24, 2012 - 11:42AM

    Wow!!!!

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  • Ali Ayyaz
    Sep 24, 2012 - 11:47AM

    Thank you, Express Tribune for covering our event. This needs to be publicized as much as the riots were, to show the world the true face of Pakistani’s and to make a statement that the youth of Pakistan is ever-ready to protect the reputation and image of the country.Recommend

  • Sep 24, 2012 - 12:09PM

    An excellent initiative taken by the young students. So proud of you!!!

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  • Sep 24, 2012 - 12:10PM

    Had i known about this would become part of it as well. Great Job guys :)

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  • Shahzad
    Sep 24, 2012 - 12:11PM

    Well done. A very noble initiative. I would have joined if knew about this event earlier. Thanks to millions of peaceful Aashiqan e Rusul (pbuh) who participated in rallies and did not damage any property or break even a glass in 100s of cities of Pakistan like Sargodha, Mianwali, Arifwala , Khanewal , Muzarafarabad , Sukher, Chiniyot , Abotabad, Noshehra, Maingora, Pakpatan, Sawabi, Larkana , Mirpurkhas, Jehlam and many more. Special thanks to our Liberal media who never mentioned these millions of our brothers for few seconds but showed few dozen stone hurling angry mob for hours.

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  • abc
    Sep 24, 2012 - 12:17PM

    Must be appreciated and supported on all fronts.Still its the responsibility of the concerned authorities.

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  • Saif Khan
    Sep 24, 2012 - 1:22PM

    Need of the day!!!

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  • enu
    Sep 24, 2012 - 1:32PM

    “21-year-old Yawar Aziz hoped that the initiative will force people to rethink their actions.” indeed actions speak louder than words! good job!

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  • Khan
    Sep 24, 2012 - 1:48PM

    Good start. Be aware, they might blow you up.

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  • DUH
    Sep 24, 2012 - 1:53PM

    40 came from 4000 who pledged..goes on to tell you how easy it is to click buttons on your key board rather then go and play your part… Good on you guys.. I wish I was in Karachi, the count would have been 41…

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  • Farooq Malik
    Sep 24, 2012 - 2:40PM

    Excellent effort

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  • THE
    Sep 24, 2012 - 2:45PM

    It’s a sad truth that a few dozen who were creating chaos and should have been arrested by the police were given international coverage but these cleaning the streets after them don’t get any coverage at all. If the media gave them coverage, then others would follow their footsteps…

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  • GhostRider
    Sep 24, 2012 - 2:47PM

    Finally some fresh air amidst the smog of extremeism

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  • Aheelam
    Sep 24, 2012 - 3:33PM

    Amazing !! Well done guys :D
    Who says there is no more hope for Pakistan!Recommend

  • Mukee
    Sep 24, 2012 - 3:54PM

    I was part of this …. Feel proud and proud … MashAllah !!!!

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  • maria
    Sep 24, 2012 - 4:22PM

    Very good .. i wish if Mr. rafi would have run the campaign on facebook as well and participants would be more … still thanks a lot

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  • Ibrar Ahmad Mir
    Sep 24, 2012 - 4:39PM

    Thumbs Up for you Guys. You are real Asheeqaan-e-Rasool (PBUH).

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  • arcane
    Sep 24, 2012 - 5:19PM

    Great effort ! much respect!

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  • antanu g
    Sep 24, 2012 - 5:31PM

    well done….keep it up. it shows all is not lost in pakistan…this also strengthen my hope for pakistan.Recommend

  • Pakistani
    Sep 24, 2012 - 5:58PM

    Where is our media now that had been shouting out loud on the unrest during the protest? this is an excellent job and a good deed which should have been broadcasted too! Hats off to you guys who were a part of this campaign!Recommend

  • KD
    Sep 24, 2012 - 7:56PM

    Proud of u guys…we are the real Pakistan…and we will make our country’s future better and bright…

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  • Zain Moosa
    Sep 24, 2012 - 11:35PM

    When I saw and heard about the unrest in the country on a day which was suppose to show our love for Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), I was happy that I am not in Pakistan but now after I read this article about the efforts these hand full people have done – I regret not being in Pakistan. You 40 people are the actual ones who really love the Prophet. For those who were a part of the disaster that happened in Pakistan – decide for yourself is what you all did ishq-e-rasool or this what these 40 people did?

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  • Muntazir Mahdi
    Sep 25, 2012 - 10:13AM

    I only have two sentences for these amazing Pakistani youths!!

    1: Hats off to you guys :)
    2: Thank you for showing the World the inner peace that we youths have within us :)

    Wished to join it for definite in Karachi but I feel sad on knowing about the event late somehow but really praise the idea & efforts done by you all, this shows & make us all believe that future of Pakistan is bright for sure!!
    On Friday while debating with my few American friends on the situation & seeing the statuses of many Pakistanis saying that “first time ashamed to be a Pakistani”; I was on the point that no its not the whole Pakistan that is on media but in fact the real larger Pakistan is at homes in peace & on Sunday you guys made it the reality by showing up :)

    Recommend

  • Muntazir Mahdi
    Sep 25, 2012 - 10:13AM

    I only have two sentences for these amazing Pakistani youths!!

    1: Hats off to you guys :)
    2: Thank you for showing the World the inner peace that we youths have within us :)

    Wished to join it for definite in Karachi but I feel sad on knowing about the event late somehow but really praise the idea & efforts done by you all, this shows & make us all believe that future of Pakistan is bright for sure!!
    On Friday while debating with my few American friends on the situation & seeing the statuses of many Pakistanis saying that “first time ashamed to be a Pakistani”; I was on the point that no its not the whole Pakistan that is on media but in fact the real larger Pakistan is at homes in peace & on Sunday you guys made it the reality by showing up :)Recommend

  • Mohammed Arif
    Sep 25, 2012 - 4:07PM

    It is really a big job and to be appreciated but do we believe this can it compensate the damage that we displayed on Friday being Muslims.

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  • Rubaru
    Oct 4, 2012 - 1:35AM

    These very sensible people showed what it meant to be a real ishq-e-rasool -those mullahs who were whipping up a frenzy would do well to take note .Instead of spreading the message of extremism they ought to adopt the example of the prophet who remained calm and did not get provoked and resort to rash action. Remember the advice in the Koran “la kum di nu kum waliya Deen.”

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