The Power of One Peace Activist in Pakistan: Sail’s Story
ACTIVISM, 25 Jul 2016
Have you ever been a situation you wanted to challenge, but did not know how?
When you live in a violent, conflict affected area, the stakes are even higher.
Yet here is the story of Sail, one young man who has changed minds and prevented extremism in his community.
Sail is 19. He is a land surveyor in Swabi, Pakistan. Sail noticed that many youths in his village went to religious schools. He knew they were exploited by the Taliban and even received specialist militant training. Sail wanted them to lead positive lives, but didn’t know how to approach their very conservative mind set. He didn’t have the skills, the knowledge or the support.
Then Sail found Aware Girls. He took their training course and started working with them. He learned how to reach out to the youth and prevent more lives being lost to violent extremism.
Sail began to talk to the youth using what he’d learned about peace, human rights and religious tolerance. At first, some were unwilling to listen:
“Some understood my message and others ignored. But over time I had more youth coming to join me in the peace talks. With a small group of 15 youth, I created an organisation, ‘We Can Bring Peace’.”
Sail began to work with, Mufti, a progressive religious scholar, who educates boys from the extremist training camps and explains the Taliban’s misleading teachings. He also included messages of peace in his Friday sermons.
Sail taught the young boys that all humans are equal and that violence is never the solution.
Thanks to his brave efforts, several boys have returned to their families with changed minds and six have even joined Sail’s local peace group. We Can Bring Peace now has 50 youth members who mentor students and organise positive activities, such as cricket matches and coaching, to keep them engaged.
Sail has also used his new skills to establish constructive community initiatives to combat violence and extremism. Working with the police, Sail has launched a Gun Control Campaign. Many people have stopped keeping guns, and shots are no longer fired during public festivities. Sail also created a Peace and Human Rights Awareness Program, which has been taught at local high schools since September 2015.
“It has been five months since I attended Aware Girls’ training on peace and I have been able to bring a considerable change in my surroundings.”
Aware Girls are able to reach young people, showing them an alternative to extremism. Their training courses enable young people to spread the message of peace so young minds turn away from extremism.
Ruth Tidy is responsible for initiating and maintaining relationships with Peace Direct’s individual donors.
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