Aijaz, a student of a madrassa in Surankote Tehsil, Poonch, has attended three Skill Building Sessions organized by Charkha. He has always been fond of writing but had little understanding of social issues. The sensitivity and awareness he gained at the Charkha Session moved him to do something – and he has written several articles for Charkha since.
By his own admission, he found he was no longer blind to the hardships of people around him. He narrates the experience of going up to a woman he had often seen begging on the streets, curious – now – to find out why she was forced to beg. The woman, Moniza Bi, widow of Abdul Aziz of Village Potha, Surankote, had applied for Government Pension some four years ago but had received nothing so far, hence the recourse to begging.
Aijaz followed up her case with the Social Welfare Office of Surankote Tehsil and successfully obtained for her the entitlement of Old Age Pension for the period January to March 2013. Delighted, he went to her home to hand over the first cheque personally, receiving much gratitude and blessings for his selfless act.
Moniza Bi has now been enrolled for the scheme and is expected to receive this pension regularly. Aijaz attended a Skill Building Session in early October to share his inspiring story and encourage other youth to also work for their communities.
Dilpazeer was the proverbial ‘angry young man’ when we first met him. The teenager was visibly agitated about the injustice was done to his people simply because they hail from a village that takes over six hours (of trekking) to reach from the last motorable road.
Dilpazeer is now a regular participant at the Skill Building Sessions and calls – just as agitated – when his writing has not appeared in print for over ten days after he sent it to the Editorial Team at Charkha.
“For as long as I can remember, I have questioned the poor implementation of government policies that hinder the development of my region: the border district of Poonch in the Jammu region, listed as one of the most backward districts of our country. Also, I have been drawn towards issues that directly or indirectly, affect women, especially those from the community I too hail from: Gujjars. And there are many other issues that I wanted to write about, for I always considered pen to be mightier than sword.
For a long time, I was hesitant and kept my thoughts – and writings – to myself, feeling the need for a mentor and a medium, so as to make an impact. A chance article I read in a local Urdu daily, written by a junior in my college – Government Degree College, Poonch – changed all that. The footnote of the article read Charkha Features. I found that many articles were, in fact, being ublished, most by people I knew in town. I inquired and found that a writing workshop had been conducted in Poonch, and all those articles could be traced to that workshop.
I searched for “Charkha Features” on the internet and got to know about Charkha Development Communication Network. The first thing I did was to send them an email. The response I got was so warm and motivating that I promptly sent them one of my writings. The team at Charkha helped get it published not just in state dailies, but also in one of the most prominent English newspapers, The Daily Pioneer. What followed has completely transformed me. A week-long writing workshop with them not only brushed up my writing skills but enabled me to write confidently on development issues. I learnt to read the human story reflected in a picture. I learnt to listen to the rural and marginalized communities and accurately reflect their perspective in my writings. And, with all the guidance from Charkha, I am sure that it will make a difference.
I have vowed to write on the development issues of my district, and with Charkha as a mentor, I hope to be the change I want to see. Through Charkha, the voice of Poonch will echo in every part of the country, in three different languages English, Hindi and Urdu.
I wish Charkha success in continuing the pace of its work at an accelerated rate!”