By Kiran Naz (YES 2012-2013, Pakistan, hosted by AFS in Exton, PA)
My name is Kiran Naz. I am a proud YES Alumna. I was hosted in Pennsylvania, the place where everything began; the place that enriched me with so many experiences and memories; the place that helped me to become a better person.
“Child Abuse Awareness” was a community-based project funded by iEARN Pakistan with another YES alumna, Afreen Samdani (YES 2013-2014, Pakistan, hosted by PAX in Omro, WI) This workshop was created in an effort to protect and save the children of our nation from dangerous people. I wanted to address this topic for a long time because ever since I got back from USA I realized the need for awareness in my country. Pakistan’s literacy rate is only 58%. Of that 58% more than half are never educated about societal issues like child abuse. Workshops like “Child Abuse Awareness” are really important to enlighten the children about problems and how to overcome difficult situations.
The workshop was conducted in the Happy Dale Government Girls School with 100 girls from the age group of 10-15 years old. The workshop began with an introduction and some jokes to get the girls talking. After that we discussed the rights to their bodies and where they shouldn’t be touched. We told them about 5 Alerts, which will help them to identify such situations: 1) Hold Alert, 2) Alone Alert, 3) Talk Alert, 4) See Alert, and 5) Touch Alert
We enacted situations and asked the girls to identify the alert. We also told them how to handle such situations and made sure they aren’t scared or hesitated to discuss such experiences.
In the second half of the workshop we started with an activity which we called “Love Circle.” We explained what kind of people fall in our love circle and to what extent they can talk or touch us. The last part of workshop we shared personal stories on this topic, and then opened the floor to see if anyone else wanted to share their own story. The response we got was shocking. One of every five girls shared a related experience. Some of their stories gave us goose bumps. We told the girls that the people who fall into their Love Circle are a good option to share such incidents and experiences with so they can help us.
Child abuse (and the lack of awareness) isn’t just an issue in Pakistan, it is global. We need to do something about it before it gets too late. We can address this issue by creating awareness and by speaking up about it. If we never speak those issues will remain unresolved forever, which means the childhood of these innocent souls will always be endanger.
The goal of the workshop was to make sure that these girls realize that they are strong enough to speak up for themselves and brave and bold enough to handle such situations – because silence will never resolve these problems. By the end of the workshop we saw how the girls were confident and expressive in sharing their opinions.
We asked the girls what they thought of the workshop and if the content was helpful. The response we received made me the happiest. A girl came up and said:
“Before this workshop we never talked about this topic, we saw some cases like this on news but we never discussed it. I always had so many questions about what is right and wrong but I couldn’t find the answers because whenever I wanted to ask someone I just couldn’t ask. From now on I will make sure I spread this message as much as I can.”
This was the best part of workshop for me because if I was even able to make a difference in one person’s life it matters. I know change doesn’t come overnight we have to work for it. We have to work towards better, brighter and safer future. I am proud to be a part of IEARN and the YES program that is helping and supporting us to move towards betterment.