Project Proposal by Ashar Awan, Executive Member KCT.
After the massive destruction of Earthquake of 8th Oct, 2005, infrastructure in the capital city of Muzaffarabad was completed destroyed. Opportunities for youth to develop their skills and knowledge are very limited, but after the huge destruction of this natural disaster, youth in the urban area of Muzaffarabad city finds no way to improve their skills and knowledge.
Kashmir Record and Research Council (KRRC) has been working from last two decades for the betterment of Kashmiri society through intellectual and social uplift of the deprived community of Kashmir. KRRC has recently conducted a need analysis survey for the major problems which youth of Muzaffarabad city are facing, the main finding of this in-depth interview based research are;
1. Youth is feeling frustration as they are mostly abused by political parties for their interest.
2. Youth is feeling hopeless as they have no more confidence in their skill through which they can earn their livelihood.
3. Most of the born leaders among local youth say that they need knowledge and vision of their role and responsibilities.
4. Many young leaders, who are the active social workers of different local and grass root level organization, say that the need a joint plate form to mainstream their efforts for poverty alleviation and social awareness.
5. Few educated youth leaders, who are jobless at the moment, say that the need a proper mentorship to find jobs, resume development and interview preparation.
6. Most of the student leaders say that the biggest problem of our youth is that we don’t have a proper respectable place to sit and think/discuss about our problems and their solution.
7. Those youngsters which are actively involved in awareness, and informative activities suggested that a proper library cum community hall for youth is the solution to all of our problems. This will improve the interest of education among youth and boost the knowledge level of this cream of nation.
8. Most of them think that library could benefit the youth dynamically; it will improve their sense of responsibility for their education and education of society; it will provide a forum for youth to think of their problems and solution; it will give a chance to conduct series of programs, workshops, seminar and meeting about the rights and responsibilities of youth.
9. Youth was ranked on 2.8 on the 1-10 scale of measuring knowledge of history of Kashmir.
From this inference, KRRC has decided at a meeting held in the presence of it President Dr. Mohsin Shakeel that we should start a same kind of research project about youth problems in Neelum valley, Mr. Ashar Awan was selected for this task. He visited Neelum valley on 15 September. During this tour he took interview from youth of all walks of life. In the light of his report submitted to KRRC executive team, follow issues were highlighted by youth in Neelum valley.
1. Youth specially teenager are very much eager to learn and get formal education.
2. They have poor access to basic fundamental requirements of life; education, health, self esteem.
3. Youth feel a sense of inferiority about their knowledge, education, quality of education.
4. Those who want to read books other than those offered in schools and colleges have no access to books about history, computer, English language and current affairs.
5. Due to poor situation of livelihood and income level, most of the youth have no access to quality newsletter, newspaper, journal and magazines.
6. Among few highly educated young dwellers of Neelum valley, some who are interested in the uplift of their community faces difficulty as there is no infrastructure like public library, community hall or meeting place.
7. Youth was found very much enthusiastic about a community place, where they can interact in a environment which incorporates social responsibility and personal development.
8. Youth was ranked on 1.3 on the 1-10 scale of measuring knowledge of history of Kashmir.
Intellectual capital in terms of Knowledge about; History of Kashmir, Kashmiri art, Kashmiri language, Pahari Language and Intellectual assets like growing number of books on history, political issues and poetry are all observed and reported subjectively reducing. Keeping in mind about the importance of knowledge KRRC proposes a library project.
i. To improve the current level of informal education of local youth in Muzaffarbad and Neelum Valley.
ii. To improve the livelihood situation of local community.
iii. To improve the quality of education in different educational institutes.
iv. To improve the self-esteem level of youth in Muzaffarabad and Neelum Valley.
v. To help youth in finding a better vision than they currently have.
Neelum valley is much deprived due to long disconnection from other parts of Kashmir as it stayed a victim of long decades old firing and shelling by Indian troops. Due to the brutalities of war and security measure this area has been victim of poverty and ignorance. Now as cease fire is continuously observed from many years, local community has hardly started business for their livelihood, but this is not enough for basic requirements of life for their families. Due to decades old military operations in this area, this community could not have access to education and health facilities. No business can grow in this area; skill development institutes were never seen in this area, as a result this newly formed district is below the poverty line.
Like poor health situation, level and quality of education is a serious problem for this area. If community can get the awareness about need and benefits of education, they will send their offsprings to schools and colleges, and eventually private investment in school, colleges and technical institutions will be observed. For this purpose, KRRC has formed a community based organization (CBO) in Dangar a town near Keran in Neelum valley. This CBO has shown interest in a community hall cum libray, where the youth of local area can sit and read newspaper, historical books, discuss local issues and their problem, social responsibilities, environmental threats from growing tourism industry in area. They have offered a place comprising of hall on road side as a free premises for libray cum community hall. KRRC will be having no liability of paying rent of this hall.
KRRC will provide books about Kashmir, Kashmir issue, Conflict resolution, History of Kashmir, current affairs and world history. Pahari poets and local writers will be encouraged to get memebership of this CBO, KRRC will help them in future to publish their work.
In Muzaffarabad, youth are increasingly involved in drugs addiction and other social crimes. Many start drugs due to social and economic problems after giving up infront of these stumbling blocks. It has been observed that local youth leader have worked in their own way to help these frustrated and depressed young fellows, but they have low resources and no recognition and encouragement. If KRRC starts a community hall cum library in the mid of urban area which is accessable for most of young boys living in city, following targets could be achieved;
1. 1. Youth can find a respectable place to sit and read good books from the library, they could discuss on current issues. These group discussions will bring new knowledge to them. New comers will get inspired from senior library members, and they take active membership of library.
2. 2. There are many youth-oriented blood donor organizations working in Muzaffarabad, but they are all unorganized and working in a non professional way, this cause failure to be most of them often. If they get a chance to a unit at one forum in this community hall, they can bring efforts to main stream. The joint efforts of this blood donor organization can bring change in society at a larger level.
3. 3. The biggest problem of this society is unemployment; a desk of Human resource development will be created in the community hall, where youth will find jobs ads, the job announcements from national organization on the internet and newspapers, resume development and interview preparation guidance by expert members of this library.
4. 4. Kashmiri language classes will also be a part of this library; expert Kashmiri speakers from local community will be invited as per their convenience to deliver lectures.
5. 5. Training workshops on social responsibility of youth, rights of youth as state citizen, youth development, leadership, communication, report writing, organization management, team building will take place. Training workshops by international resource persons from different countries will be arranged on projector/multimedia.
6. Weekly lectures by scholars of history, political science and journalism will deliver lectures.
Project manager will get monthly reports from both libraries-Muzaffarabad and Neelum. He will send to webmaster of KRRC after compiling it for KRRC website visitors.
In Neelum valley, KRRC has been promised by local community to provide hall/room for library, KRRC has to provide them a sign board and books in stage one. After six months after evaluating the utilization of a book through visitor book, guest book and pictures of events, KRRC will upgrade the library with multimedia and computes.
In muzaffabad KRRC as to higher a room on rent, purchase table and chairs, a computer and printer, sign board, notice board, book shelves and a multimedia. After evaluating the performance of library after six months, KRRC will higher a regular employee for the library project through proper advertisement for the newspaper.
The project has been designed in a way, that its future sustainability is ensured. Keeping in mind the sustainability risk, KRRC has developed a strategy for library to generate its own resources. The computer will be utilized for English Urdu composing. Library membership will be upgraded to premium after six months, donations and funds will be raised on a monthly basis from local community, resume development and job interview preparation will be provided against nominal charges. The project has been designed in a way that cost minimization is considered as its core value.