From a young age, Naveed Hameed, confronted numerous instances where he suffered from discrimination simply because he belonged from a different background than those around him. This instances ensured his believe in hope and made him realize how it felt to be discriminated. Soon after, Naveed learned that discrimination was not just being treated rudely but also being misunderstood.
At a tender age, he decided to play a role towards eradicating the misunderstandings which were driven by various misguided social dynamics. He founded his organization named ‘SOCH’ (In English: Think), where he focused on channelizing his personal experiences through his professional work to bridge the gap between different segments of the society.
In 2016, Naveed visited the United States as a participant of the ‘Emerging Leaders of Pakistan’, an exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government. During this time, he was introduced to a variety of ICT tools currently in-use to counter violence and to promote a pluralism. The lasting impact of the tools drove his aspiration to adopt similar methodologies in Pakistan to promote harmony, diversity and pluralism amongst people of different heritage, background, ethnicity, faith and language.
Following the Pakistan-U.S. Alumni Network’s (PUAN) International Peacebuilding Conference, Naveed launched the ‘Peace is Possible Together’ project with the support of the U.S. Mission in Pakistan through an Alumni Small Grant from PUAN. The project aimed at enabling the youth to use the ICT tools to positively impact in redressing issues related to gender inequality, extremism, and social exclusion. The project entailed three modules; an intensive training workshop of 20 shortlisted aspirants, an in-depth focus group discussion and content development, and the concluding screening event.
Peace Is Possible Together: Training Workshop
The project commenced with a three-day training workshop on integrating ICT tools (android and iPhone) to empower the trainees in order to create awareness regarding social issues and promoting the spirit of responsible citizenship through visual storytelling.
The training, held in Lahore in September 2017, provided a diverse group of participants a platform to learn the ‘how to’ of using the medium of filmmaking integrated with smartphone apps to narrate social issues towards shaping public opinion. The participants received a rigorous coaching on capacity-building, story development techniques and hands-on filmmaking experience under the training of seasoned mentors and professionals of the industry.
Moreover, on the third day of the training, the participants visited the headquarters of Express News where they practically experienced the process of writing a story to formulating it into a news-package.
Peace Is Possible Together: Focused Group Discussion
During the second module, the participants were separated into eight groups to work on documentary films on the theme of Hope, Courage and Diversity using their smartphones. The focused group discussion, held at the Lincoln Corner in Lahore, linked the participants with industry’s influential figures who postulated constructive feedback related to storyboard, cinematography, story development and impact of the message being conveyed.
Soon after getting the stories approved, the participants headed out in the community to film the powerful stories of locals who are breaking the stigma. The stories shed light on the lives of the transgender individuals, women change makers, and the role of interfaith harmony and Sufism.
Peace Is Possible Together: Film Screening
The third module encapsulated the screening ceremony of the eight documentary films produced and directed by eight groups of participants. The screening, held at the Forman Christian College University, was attended by the representatives of community-based organizations, nonprofits, media, the U.S. Consulate Lahore, social activists and the students.
The initial screening was followed by a panel discussion on countering extremism through the tool of new media, where eminent panelists stressed the importance of using the ICT tools to bring about social change.
Speaking at the ceremony, the Public Affairs Officer at the US Consulate General Lahore, Michael Guinan, applauded the efforts of the participants and congratulated Naveed Hameed on successfully concluding his project.
In delivering the remarks to PUAN, Naveed expressed his delight over the incredible work of the participants and added, “each one of us can contribute to the society in our own innovative ways. One must recognize his/her role in making the community more harmonious, inclusive and safer for all.”
Watch the documentary-film ‘Women on Wheels’ which is produced by the participants
Towards the end of the closing ceremony, an enthusiastic participant shared;
“This training provided a rare experience to me, not just in the sense of learning but in the sense of personal grooming. It was the first time I spoke with a person from Sikh faith. I soon realized we are far more alike than different.”
After executing a successful training, Naveed hopes that once the trainees go back in their community, they support the marginalized, excluded individuals with the skills they learned so they can be a voice for those who may never have any medium to express.
This event was made possible with the help of an alumni small grant from the Pakistan-U.S. Alumni Network (PUAN). All alumni of various U.S. government-sponsored exchange programs in Pakistan are eligible to apply for the grant of up to 5,000 USD to enable them to give back to their communities.