Projects for Peace: The Vision of Kathryn W. Davis

"My challenge to you is to bring about a mind-set of preparing for peace, instead of preparing for war."

Kuch Karo Community Action Workshop

Project #
Bennington College
  • Maliha Ali

Kuch Karo Community Action Workshop

Maliha returned to her native Pakistan last summer with a goal to teach local high-school students how to take action in their community. She developed a curriculum to engage with 16 students for three weeks of daily four-hour sessions of role playing, debate, teamwork-building exercises, research, and writing, all aimed at encouraging participants to develop critical-thinking skills and to learn how to apply these skills to problem solving in the community. Maliha introduced to her students the idea of libraries as outstanding resources, thus leading into the second part of her project—the restoration of the Sehba Akhtar Library, an unused and neglected public library in Karachi.

Maliha and a group of volunteers, the “Core Team”, worked with the students to repair and restore the library. They painted, plumbed, created signage, and arranged spaces. In addition, they catalogued and shelved over 2,000 books. By the end of the restoration project, local officials were so impressed that they donated nine computers and hired an experienced librarian. The end result was the transformation of a space that will now be used in positive ways by the community, and a group of young people armed with the knowledge that positive change is possible, and that they can not only identify a problem, but also work together to come to a solution.

The municipal government originally informed Maliha that the restoration work could not be authorized until she formed a nongovernmental organization. While time consuming and somewhat costly, this NGO now exists as a platform for future ventures, as Maliha intends to return home and replicate her very successful project with other high-school students and other neglected public spaces in Karachi.