Starting young: 21-year-old teaches children tolerance

Haris Hashmi says the efforts of individuals will make Pakistan a better place.

Our Correspondent May 21, 2015

KARACHI: Training children to be tolerant is a challenge that has to be overcome in order to make our country's future brighter.

Haris Hashmi, a 21-year-old student from Sherpao Colony and the founder of the Foundation for Empowering Youth, addressed students in the third session of the 'I Am Karachi Talks' at Khadim Ali Shah Bukhari Institute of Technology on Thursday.

Hashmi used to work in a bicycle workshop during his school days. He never thought of doing anything special for himself — doing something for the community was a far cry. "I realised my role as a citizen when one of my friends was sent to jail for an attempt to rob a telecommunication franchise," he said. "Even after realising my role, I did not have enough resources at hand to make both ends meet — going to college was just another fancy dream for me."

Discovering the Korangi Academy proved to be a milestone for Hashmi. "As soon as I finished my Intermediate at Korangi Academy, I was supported by the Infaq Foundation and the Sindh Endowment Fund to continue my studies at National University of Computer and Emerging Sciences, Karachi," he said. "I work for my foundation on a regular basis now and I am studying as well."

He said his foundation initiated the 'Pakistan Tolerance Programme' in 2014. "The motive of this programme was to increase tolerance among the children of our society," he said, adding that a number of people were trained to conduct training sessions for the children. "The trainers were then sent to their respective communities to train 30 students per community." He said that it took a small sum of money to reach 1,500 children through this programme.

Speaking about opportunities, Hashmi said that the community really helped him advance his mission. "It is essential to start working with the resources you have at hand and people will come forward to support you," he said. "It is always difficult to start but it is essential to realise that our expectations are always lower than what we are capable of doing." He emphasised that it is important to have faith in one's potential.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 22nd, 2015.


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