Young Social Reformers: After humble beginnings, two students fulfil their dream

The social-welfare group engages young people to become agents of change.


Samia Saleem May 17, 2011

KARACHI:


They started in 2004 from a small room. University students Fahad Rizvi and Sarah Alam envisaged a large group of budding young people. Their aim was to unite them, give them a platform to become agents of change — create burgeoning leaders and empower the youth.


Today, seven years down the lane, their dream has evolved into Young Social Reformers, a volunteer, social-welfare organisation that is working with the youth, not only in Pakistan but also in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

“Young Social Reformers (YSR) seeks to encourage youngsters to become effective citizens through networking and leadership-building activities to strengthen their decision-making capabilities within an organisation and the communities they live in,” Rizvi explained.

YSR has been promoting and encouraging the local youth to advocate issues of social importance. Their events are both educational and recreational, providing an opportunity for like-minded people to network and form groups to serve the community.

The group was also active in the earthquake relief efforts of October 2005 and also established a community library at GGS Liaquatabad with the courtesy of iEARN-Pakistan in May 2007.

Nida Dar, a regular participant who is a student at the Jinnah University for Women, recalled, “I was just thrown in to host an event without even a script as the organisers had complete faith in me,” she said. “I gained such self-confidence after that.”

The Young Social Reformers has a group of nine post-bearers, an honorary board of eight corporate executives and 750 members who are from all the major universities in Karachi and Sindh.

Trainers and motivational speakers are hired for their activities that range from workshops on leadership building and decision-making skills to debates and discussions on the socio-political improvement of the country.

Their events were held with the help of their partners at the ministry of overseas Pakistanis, ministry of information technology, the National Bank of Pakistan, Pakistan State Oil, Engro Corporation, the Board of Intermediate Education, Karachi, US Embassy, Islamabad and US Consulate, Karachi, the Sindh ministry of youth affairs, the City District Government, Karachi and One World South Asia, India.

Zeeshan Qamar, the vice president of YSR, said these youth leaders assist with the promotion and implementation of the programmes at the international level. “Our youth activities also support international cooperation activities with other partner countries in South East Asia.”

Ongoing YSR  programmes:

Youth Leadership & Professional Training Development Programme, July 2010- June 2011

Tipping Point, July 2011

Earlier programmes:

‘Leaders are Dealers of Hope’ Conference, March 2010

Women Leaders Forum, 2009

I Own Pakistan, 2009

Building Co-Op Webinar with University of British Colombia, June 2008

Sindh Youth Festival, March 2008

World Social Forum International Delegates Reception, April 2006

Youth Leadership Conference, January 2006

International Youth Jam, August 2005

Published in The Express Tribune, May 18th, 2011.

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