They Matter — Amal Mega Project (Pt 2)

Annyeonghaseyo chingu!

Welcome to my last update on the mega project. If you guys follow my blogs, you might remember that I talked about it in my past blogs. But if you are new and have no idea then don’t worry! I have got your back. I’m not only attaching links to the previous blogs but also lemme give you a brief intro if you’re lazy, like me, and not into reading the whole blog! I totally understand you guys ;-p

Here are the links

https://umme-hania179.medium.com/one-small-step-for-man-one-giant-leap-for-mankind-amal-mega-project-d603e6c2dfb9

https://umme-hania179.medium.com/they-matter-amal-mega-project-1871d32b4b10

And for the laid back souls like me, here’s your short intro!

One of the major highlights of Amal fellowship is fellows working in groups towards a cause that they think needs attention and working. This group work is called Mega project , and is therefore the highlight cause duhhh, it’s MEGA! So, for our mega project, my team with 3 other members, Ali, Afzal and Maria , after having tons of discussions, finally decided to work for the transgender community of Pakistan. We started a campaign on social media with a vision to create an equal Pakistan with equal opportunities for all genders. We aimed to create awareness amongst the masses and provide education and vocational training to the transgenders of Pakistan. To achieve this goal we collaborated with an organization working already in this field, The Gender Guardian (TGG). With them, we collected donations, created awareness by talking about the transgender’s on different platforms, sponsored their education and vocational training through the donations collected and also interacted and got comfortable with them by interviewing them.

Before I begin writing a conclusive blog on our Mega project, lemme share the thoughts of my group members, starting with our very eager, avid learner of our group, Maria Umbreen

“Our mega project circle, called Evolutioners, tried our best for the betterment of transgender community in our society by raising funds ,creating awareness by making posters and through social media .

For gathering collection, we had to face many challenges but in the end, we were able to collect approximately 8000 amounts. Many people showed hesitation to donate. We also strived to arrange a webinar on the Rights and Awareness about transgenders across Pakistan and we tried to reach out a speaker through email but we were unable to connect them .One of the speakers said that he is not willing to be the speaker as he lacks expertise on the particular subject.

Our circle leader, Umme Hania, and Ali made more efforts in making posters on canvas and shared that on Instagram page as well as WhatsApp groups .The advanced technology and people connection helped us to do our task in a better way.

We were able to impact many people. I personally shared our mission of this project with my family ,and they voluntarily donated 1200 that I transferred to my fellow Ali, who on my behalf transferred to the TGG’s account. My family and friends appreciated this noble task that we are doing and also showed passion and interest for this Platform.

Our main mission is to work for the betterment of Transgender in the collaboration with” The Gender Guardian “ Pakistan first ever school in Lahore for transgender strive to provide quality education and training to transgender’s across Pakistan.”

Quite comprehensive overview of the whole mega project. Now lemme share with you what Afzal, our well connected and inspiring fellow had to share about our mega project!

“The assignment of our Mega Project during our fellowship at Amal Academy finally made all of us get out of our comfort zones and urged us to work and put our humble efforts towards a noble cause. As teamwork is the main factor in this regard, at the very start, members of our team were reduced and the activity planned and the tasks divided between 7 people were now at the shoulders of 4. Plan was reformed and thus strategies to act on it were changed too.

Helper, a word with not only a good meaning but also maybe the savior of mankind. Our society is divided into many categories, rich, under the poverty line, on the line, the one who asks for help and the ones who don’t, so on and on. But then there are those who are alienated by society and they have to live under the line, not because they lack hard work and passion to work hard to earn, but because no one treats them as human. Because if they did, then their basic human rights would have not been exploited.

As we started working for them (transgenders), we suddenly came to realize that the biggest battle we are fighting is to gain trust. Not because they didn’t want to change. They really do want to work feely and do what they love and learn new things and to make it their profession. But society outcasts them, despite all the constitutional amendments and special sections for their rights.

They were discriminated against on every level, harassed on streets and even in their own homes. Therefore, trusting individuals in their early twenties, talking about changing the world for them, is totally believable!! (sarcasm intended)

For this reason, we collaborated with The Gender Guardian, an institute working for transgenders in Lahore; who responded to us positively. The Gender Guardian goal is to make transgenders able to learn skills for respectful earning.

We hope to get a more positive response from our society and also we hope for the success of our project to make transgenders part of our society with respect and equal opportunities.”

After reading Afzal’s account, you might have realized that us taking this initiative and working towards it in reality wasn’t as easy as we make it sound. Coz before making the world believe in us, we had to make the community we were working for believe in us. That we, a group of students in their twenties who are less than the fingers on a single hand, will change their life for the better and will actually do something meaningful for them and their community.

After Azal, let me share what our most creative and active member of the group, Ali has to say about

“So far we have worked with full dedication on our mega project. As we talk about the progress, we reached out to different people for both information and donation purposes.

So far we are able to gather approx. 8k by reaching out to families, friends and social media. Social media, especially, played an important role in this whole process . We made different graphic posts and circulated them on our social medias.

Regarding the approach, yes we changed it from our former, which was by contacting people in person. But later due to nationwide lockdown, we reached people on calls to make them understand our plan fully. I, for this purpose, also talked to my teachers. We were in coordination with the gender guardian team as well, which helped us achieve fruitful results in the end.

For the sustainability point, we can say we will keep working with this Ngo cause they are doing great for the community and we will provide them with capital through donations and refer them any needy transgender we come across.”

After reflective accounts from each of the members, let me give you further insight into our mega project. So let’s begin with the obvious question, “were we able to meet our goals?

Well one of the objectives of our whole project was inclusivity of transgenders in the society, that was targeted to be achieved through creating awareness amongst the masses. This we achieved through running a campaign on social media by the name “They Matter — Foundation for Equality”. We approached our friends, family and people around us and educated them about the rights of transgenders.

Well, I won’t say that we achieved our goal completely but we managed to create a buzz so yes, we have created a crack. Just need to apply more pressure to break it completely!

The second objective was empowering transgender community through education and vocation training so that new avenues of opportunities are unlocked for them. To achieve this goal we planned on collecting donations. We were successful in collecting around 8k in donations, however, we hoped for more!

So ya, we were able to meet our goals to an extent!

So the next question comes to mind is, “What was the outcome? What did we achieve?

Through the working of the mega project, we were able to network with people from different spheres. We contacted different organizations and individuals by either inviting them to be our guest speaker, or telling them about our work, requesting them to collaborate or basically asking for support in the form of preaching and donations for our cause. We received a lot of appreciation from strangers, friends and family. Actually it was the appreciation that kept us going.

Apart from appreciation, we achieved trust of people and trust amongst the members. We transferred each other the amounts and trusted each other with carrying out the task. Total strangers trusted us with their donations which was great! Because of their trust in us, we were able to raise 8K and donate it to TGG. We also got to talk to some transgenders though they declined to record it. But just talking to them, having a heart to heart conversation with them was totally rewarding. (I have shared my interaction with Muhammad Mumtaz in my previous blog)

So, after all positives, let’s answer the elephant in the room, “What were our obstacles? What were the problems and hardships on our journey?

So, even though we received a good amount of donation, we hoped to receive more, which we didn’t. Also, during the first few weeks, we didn’t receive any and we really got worried and unmotivated. But then slowly and gradually, donations start pouring in.

To be honest, before starting this project, I thought it’ll be easy to collect donations. Why so? Because when we asked people for donations for the Edhi foundation, they gave us readily. So, I thought the same would happen here but it didn’t :(. It was rather difficult.

One major problem we faced was fellows from our group leaving Amal. from & we were reduced to 4 only. Then, the lockdown happened. Our whole strategy got dissolved and we had to work on a new and different approach. Then we got rejections from our potential guest speakers. Even the transgenders we talked to, refused to interview for our project. They did talk and shared their lives with us but refused to be on camera.

Other than that, we faced lack of coordination within the team. At one point it got really difficult to be on the same page, do meetings and work for the project. We all got busy with our jobs, university assignments and other work. Then there were connectivity issues and all. But in the end, we somehow managed and got on track!

Huh! We finally managed and brought this project to an end. We plan to keep working for it. We’ll try to keep the page active and will keep posting on it and will keep collecting donations on behalf of TGG.

Also, in a meeting, I promised Zaki that I’ll bring one transgender for Amal fellowship and I plan on keeping my promise. I hope Zaki also plans on keeping his promise.

Before ending the blog, I’ll again request my readers to make donation to the account below and help make life better for the trans community of Pakistan.