Category Archives: Blog

Daredreaming in Karachi


We invite you to explore the stories of five beautiful, ambitious children from the streets of Karachi. Simply page through the book with your mouse by dragging the corners to turn each page.

 

Click here for a full-window version of the photo book for optimal viewing

daredreaming_cover

Cover to Fareena Chanda's 'Daredreaming'

Daredreaming on the Streets of Pakistan is a compilation of five stories of triumph and will - of children living in the slums of Karachi, the financial and commercial capital of Pakistan and home to over 15 million. Born into poverty and illiteracy, like millions across the country, Khalida, Zareena, Abid, Mumtaz, and Asif have all broken the mold and are on their way to unpredictably promising futures. This was made possible by the organization The Citizens Foundation, which builds and operates modern, high quality schools in under-served communities across the country.

The stories have been compiled by thedreamfly.org, a global initiative that strives to create human connections across communities in conflict through education, exposure, and empowerment for a better, unified future. thedreamfly’s first project was a school funded by the citizens of the United States and operated by The Citizens Foundation, in the village of Akri, Pakistan. To learn about thedreamfly and its current projects across the United States, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Rwanda, and more, please visit www.thedreamfly.org.

Designed by Fareena Chanda

 

The Story of Our Entrepreneurship Workshop in Bagnan

Dreams from Bagnan

Last November, Seema Shalini Lugun and Satya Siva Nagaswetha, in conjunction with dreamfly, led a 20-day entrepreneurship workshop for students at Bagnan High School in India.  Over 50 students participated in the program, where they had the opportunity to learn about marketing, finance, and business strategy for the first time, and worked in groups to create and present their own business plans to the class.  The response from the students was overwhelmingly positive.

This is the story of dreamfly in Bagnan, told from Seema’s perspective.

bagnan 1

I never expected that this place in such a short time could give both so much love and so many memories.  And when I recall the time and the place, I feel overwhelmed with love and respect.  The first thought that came into my mind when I learned that dreamfly was working in India, was an awesome feeling; awesome because it was making a difference in the lives of people where conflict was the major force around them, and I personally have always wanted to work for such organizations.

bagnan 2

In the first two days of the workshop, we conducted some ice breaking sessions, briefing about dreamfly and an interaction session.  While the students were shy and hesitant at first, with the combination of games and interaction they opened up.  And the rest of the days, their energy, eagerness, and enthusiasm was something to be seen.

bagnan 4

The groups were formed, the slogans were made, and the whole school campus was buzzing with the news that something interesting was going in the computer lab.

Students from other classes were always eager to peep into the classroom to see what was going on.  Sometimes it became even hard to continue session because lower class students were asking if they could be part of the class or wanted to see what was going on.  In short, it can be said that energy level of the students at that time was infectious and something that was just WOW.  I can say that such an energy was not something that I was expecting.

Below are a few photos of the Bagnan student groups and their projects.

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bagnan 7

bagnan 8    

bagnan 9

I have always believed in the magic of dreaming, and always carried a dream to help someone else achieve their dream.  Part of this dream came true when I went to do my project with dreamfly.  An association with dreamfly gave me a chance to witness a miracle of having and following a dream.  I say it is a miracle because there is an atmosphere where the negativity is always trying to come out of hiding.

My project at Bagnan with dreamfly not only taught me to hope and strive, but also gave me courage and strength to always follow my heart and dream.

It might seem a bit exaggerated but within a short span with dreamfly, I realized and learned a beautiful lesson of life, i.e. to dream and to hold onto your dream.  I learned that even in the midst of fear, uncertainty, and poverty, a ray of hope shines brighter than anything.

It’s not how big or small our gestures of understanding, kindness, and help are but how much we practice it that brings the change.  It would be impossible to grasp what hope and strength dreamfly has imparted on the kids at Bagnan.

I think the initiative and hand of help on behalf of dreamfly is not only creating a difference, but it’s giving hope.

During those sessions, I came across many examples where students, in a short period of time, through their determination and will power were able to overcome their weakness.  I saw growth and hope go hand in hand.  They taught me if you will, you can.  I was showered generously with love, respect, and admiration, which in itself was more than filling or satisfying, and in a way, I became indebted to them.  Many of the things that I would have otherwise bypassed in my life, I think this project gave me a chance to learn.

Exciting Developments for the Bagnan High School Computer Lab

Located in a small town of Howrah district, West Bengal, Bagnan High School has close to three thousand students. The population in the area is primarily a mix of Hindu and Muslim communities and there is a conspicuous communal divide fueled by political indoctrination in the less educated segments of the society.

dreamfly began its endeavour at Bagnan High School to create strong community ties and eradicate the mindset of religious segregation. We aim to accomplish this by providing expanded educational opportunities so that the students develop appreciation for peers and make personal connections which will eventually create a more unified society.

dreamfly set up a lab consisting of 32 computers with comprehensive software packages that give students a chance to explore topics beyond their classroom resources. These computers enhance their learning experience, stimulate their minds and help give new insight on their culture and belief systems. Equally as important, as students from different communities and backgrounds form groups to use these computers, they build tolerance and appreciation for their classmates.

Over several visits to the school, we recognized that an internet connection is essential to fully harness the potential of the computer lab and truly expand these benefits to the children. Through sustained efforts and discussions, we have arrived at an agreement with the principal of the school to help set up an internet connection. This will not only provide students access to a wealth of new information but will also help them learn new software skills.

We have been able to make such remarkable progress primarily due to the enthusiastic efforts of our on-ground volunteers. Their involvement has gained significant popularity and we have been approached by additional volunteers eager to work with us.

Looking forward, we are excited to increase operational effectiveness on the ground with our expanded team and build upon our accomplishments.

 

Dreamfly looking to expand to Latin America

“I am not an Athenian or a Greek, but a citizen of the world,” the 5th century BC philosopher Socrates supposedly said. The idea of global citizenship is at the core of what dreamfly is striving to accomplish, which is to create a human connection that transcends race, religion, culture, and politics.

dreamfly has been gratified to see examples of this connection come to life in our ongoing projects. In India we built the Bagnan High School computer lab, which brings together Hindu and Muslim students in the kind of opportunity their parents never had. In Rwanda, our continued sponsorship and expansion of the Cyingwa Primary School helps unite a community overcoming the ethnic strife that once tore their country apart.

Next up, we are looking to add a different geographical and cultural perspective to our budding global community. For the past several months, dreamfly has been evaluating options for expansion into Latin America (particularly South America) via a collaborative project with a local partner. This region features many countries with a rich, interesting, and vibrant history that have been victim to instability and strife, and as such, provide the kinds of opportunities we are looking to address. As with past dreamfly efforts, we are looking to do work in communities with a history of conflict and, with the level of funding we can provide, maximize the number of young people who would benefit. Most importantly, we are looking for on-the-ground partners with sterling reputations, track records of executing successful projects, and a philosophical alignment with our vision.

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Addicted in Afghanistan

By: Fiza

I saw the London premiere of the film “Addicted in Afghanistan” last week and wrote a review and my thoughts on it for another site, which I am sharing below. It was absolutely the saddest documentary I have seen in a long time and reminds us of our task in Afghanistan and our need to be there for the Afghans. The original piece was published on Project Carousel website and can also be found on my personal blog Chowraha.

Last Thursday, on March 11 2010, SOAS held the London Premiere of the film “Addicted in Afghanistan.” Khalili Lecture Theatre was packed at 6:00 pm from people who had been queing up since 5:15 pm eager to watch Jawed Taiman’s film on the addiction to narcotics in Afghanistan covered via the lives of two young best friends Jabbar and Zahir, boys aged between 14 and 16.

The film was gripping from its very first scene as it took the audience through the journey of these two boys, happy in their childhood but gripped in one of the most sad state of affairs in the world. Both were addicted to opium. What especially saddened me and definitely caught the audience’s emotions was when in the very beginning Jabbar looks to his dad and says (referring to Jawed’s film), “He is going to show this to the world!” to which his dad responds “so what?” and the young boy looks away from the camera saying “its going to bring shame to us.” His dad’s response: “Don’t worry, he will only show it to the important people in London and America, and maybe they will feel sorry for our situation and help us”

The film was phenomenally well-made and definitely worth checking out for those who missed it. It traces the problem of addiction to opium in Afghanistan to its myriad sources of trouble: the allied forces in Afghanistan, the corrupt government and opium lords, the extreme poverty caused by decades of war in the country, the foreign interests in poppy growth in Afghanistan and the usage of resources in not always the right places for the development of the country.

One of the surprising confessions shown in the film was when one of the boys declared with a sense of bitterness “its all because of the foreigners that i am addicted. If the Taliban were to come back, I won’t be addicted anymore – its the foreigners!”. The filmmaker rephrased the young boy’s “strange” (as dubbed by a lady in the audience) expression by pointing out that because the Taliban used the Shariah law (Islamic law and jurisprudence), all they had to say was the cultivation and distribution of poppy is banned from the country and it meant it was banned. Poppy cultivation came down to zero during their governance but ever since their departure has been growing in figures. Jawed Taiman explained that that is the reality the child has seen in front of him and owes his addiction to. m of law), it meant that it was a complete ban.

To another question from the audience, Jawed said what he believed was happening in Afghanistan was the cultivation of two types of poppy fields. One, for the television and the other for business. The poppy fields that were grown for the television were then burnt down in order to show to the world that poppy cultivation in Afghanistan was being stopped. However, those living in Afghanistan know exactly where the ‘real’ poppy cultivation was happening. Even the little children in the movie knew who the distributors were and could easily give opium to any one willing to pay them for it.

The state of poverty in Afghanistan is a striking and heart-breaking feature of the film. The families shown could not afford electricity or bare essentials for survival but were still addicted to opium which was taking whatever little finances they had left. Each sachet of opium cost them $10, an amount quite expensive for those with no food at home. Their homes had cloth and plastic sheets blocking the window spaces in the wall because they could not afford real glass windows. If even one person in the family saved on the one sachet a day, they could easily save $300 which could get them wheat, rice, clothes etc.

The method for detoxification used in Afghanistan is called “cold water treatment” because of the lack of money to buy proper medicines. In this treatment cold water is thrown on the addict that is in pain. The government-controlled detox centres do not have the kind of resources or management to take in enough people claiming that the waiting-list for those willing to be detoxed is too long. Private detox centres require payment and hence cannot keep people for longer than 10 days. Zahir who manages to successfully goes through the 10 day detox returns home to find cold bare floors, no electricity, no food and the responsibility of paying the rent of the house which is due. He is back into the reality which got him addicted in the first place. Jawed pointed out that fancy clinics are set up with lots of money but there are no resources to follow-up on the rehabilitation of those detoxed, in order to ensure that they are not caught in the same vicious cycle again.

It is easy to wonder why people do not make a more concerted effort to control their addiction for the sake of the future. But Jawed does a great job in showing the reality poverty and its frustrations bring to many and where the government and those pouring resources into Afghanistan need to take better actions. It also does a great job in bringing to the audience the behind-the-tv-screens reality of Afghanistan and how easy it is to fall prey to the ‘development’ and ‘aid’ rhetoric our governments seem to want us to believe in.

The trailer of the film can also be seen here

First Fund-raiser for Afghanistan Project

By: Fiza

Owing to us being bogged down with the fund-raising events in the last few months of 2009, with the wrapping up of the year and the planning for the new year, this blog post is admittedly late in its release. But now that we have recuperated from 2009 fatigue, are set for the new year, and the excitement of the new projects is kicking in again, it’s actually easy and quite fun to recall how the Afghanistan fund-raiser went in Nov 2009. It’s better late than never right!

Close to 70 people joined in the bustling energy that filled the room at Seattle Public Library on November 15, 2009. Some were our Seattle-based Afghan friends, others came from Microsoft, Harvard business school club of Puget sound, and Harvard club of seattle, joined by our always-there-for-us dream-makers in Seattle.

In an intimate setting, the Afghan music playing in the background only added to the warm aura of the room. We had a table with Rubia products and thanks to Amena, and in fact the Wardak family as a whole, there was titillating mainly-home-made Afghan food awaiting us. (In case, you’re wondering Rubia is the organization we have partnered with for our project in Afghanistan). For me personally, the exciting bit was a dreamwall section where we had pictures from dreamwall Pakistan and lots of pics of our children from dreamfly Pakistan and children from Jalalabad. People left personal notes for the kids and got their pictures taken which we will take to the kids.

We showed videos about dreamfly and Afghanistan. Mona and Umaimah spoke about dreamfly’s journey to-date and what we’re looking to accomplish in Afghanistan. A young kid from Afghanistan, Akmal, who’s an exchange student from Jalalabad in Seattle also spoke and thanked all the attendees for their support to build a school in his home-town (it was very moving J).

looking back at 2009 with dreamfly

By: Fiza

It’s been a year since i officially joined dreamfly and i can say looking back at the year i cannot be happier with the decision. It all started with my journey inTCF, and the dreamfly school in Badin that was being discussed between the dreamfly founders and TCF team. It was just inspiring, how passionately, just within a year, HBS students and Microsoft employees came together to fund the building of the school and the little kids of Badin saw their first formal school with the happiness that cannot be compared with any thing else in the world.

Since then dreamfly has become more ambitious and better equipped than before.

With the strength of its supporters, the success of its first school and the happy stories of its 200 little kids our dreams have become bigger and more real. We want a world empowered and united through literacy, education and communication. With the observation that technology and communication can break artificial barriers and boundaries built by humans, we realize that we can ease the access to these by providing avenues and by creating literacy in the impoverished areas.

And we set out on this venture, looking back at which we didn’t do too bad for the year 2009 :)…

  1. It only made sense that the first barrier to be broken is with the neighbors of our first school. Our next project will be in Afghanistan.
  2. We visited Afghanistan in Spring to figure out where the most need was and which organizations would be most suited for our purposes. You can read about this trip in our blog posts called “Our first day in Afghanistan”, “Our second day in Afghanistan” and “How I Found Afghanistan“.
  3. We are starting a primary school and women’s craft centre in Jalalabad, Afghanistan scheduled to start in Spring 2010.
  4. For this project, we partnered with Rubia which will handle all donations and will be responsible for the on-ground execution of the project.
  5. We also went to Pakistan and met with the dreamfly kids there. We built a dreamwall with them. Our first ever dreamfly dreamwall and we just cant wait until we can build one in the Jalalabad school too!
  6. dreamfly went super online! We have a fan page on facebook which is constantly updated with news, photos and updates from us, we can be followed on twitter and maintain this blog, and we love hearing from our supporters!
  7. We expanded our volunteer-based core team this year too to include some great people helping us coordinate our project in Afghanistan, our future plans and related projects, our social networking and much more! (PS: Watch out for an update on our website really soon so u can meet these fun people!)
  8. We also held successful fundraisers for our Afghanistan project in the latter half of the year. Watch out on this blog for more details about how this went!

With all of this excitement and busy-ness, I just can’t wait to see how this year will turn out for dreamfly….and what’s more I just can’t wait to share all these with our bestest dream-makers!

sharing dreams: dreamfly dreamwall

By: Fiza

This May we launched our first project of bridging boundaries between the dream-makers in the United States and the dreamfly children in Pakistan. We are ever grateful to over 40 Harvard Business School (HBS) students for making this project possible with their time and affection. Students from Class of 2009 Section J sent hand-written letters sharing their dreams (as children) and attached their personal or family pictures with them. The notes were decorated with thought, love and creativity and were a huge deal of joy and inspiration for the children at dreamfly campus in Akri.

Collecting the Thoughts

Umaimah from dreamfly team, from Class of 2009 HBS, began this project by collecting the notes on her last day of class.

“We do a ‘reflections session’ at the very end of HBS’s 2 years where we talk about what HBS has meant for us, how we have changed or not because of HBS, and what our group of people want to stand for in the future.” Taking this opportunity in front of her group, Umaimah then asked her co-students to share their thoughts on blank pieces of paper.

The class had been asked to bring their pictures beforehand. It was an inspiration to see the dream-makers spend their time with great care for the children of dreamfly campus. Some even wrote and re-wrote their notes while some wanted to know if what they wrote was culturally appropriate for the children. The dream-makers must have taken over an hour to complete all of this. What was even more uplifting was that those who were absent that day also wanted to participate and tried to contact Umaimah to share their notes for dreamfly kids!

Sharing the Love

In May, on our trip to Pakistan, dreamfly team spent a day with dreamfly kids at May making a dream wall out of the notes that were sent to them all the way from United States. The children loved the photographs and were curious about every one who had written to them. They wanted to know about the kids from Africa in Lauren’s photo, if Seema was an actress, asked why Max was holding a funny watering can, if Dan Moon was a real doctor, if Zu

ber was Pakistani? The children talked about each of the photographs as they put them up on the dream wall.

The most memorable moment was when the principal talked to the children about a quote from Martin Luther King in one of the notes. She explained his historical significance to the children and even said that it is probably because of him that Obama is the President today! She passed MLK’s message on to the children telling them the importance of giving equal rights to every human and treating each with love and respect. The kids were quieting down as she went on to tell children about MLK and it was obvious they were thinking deeply about his words. It was an emotional moment because the children knew that those behind the notes all came from different parts of the world.

“I have a dream…”

The idea behind the project was to bring our children closer to the rest of the world so that they could hear real people talk about their real dreams. The project succeeded in every level – it even brought the message of equality and tolerance to them. They could make a connection between MLK’s cause and the fact that all these people from across the world cared for them enough to send messages of love and inspiration.

If you too want to send a note to or share your dreams and pictures with the children of dreamfly campus in Pakistan, send it to us on twitter or facebook or you could email it to fiza@nullthedreamfly.org