Gilgit - Baltistan

Shaping a Better Life: A Campaign against Substance Abuse

Press Release

Gahkuch, May 29-31: To celebrate World No Tobacco Day 2008 a 3-day programme ‘Shaping a Better Life’ was organized by Aga Khan Social Welfare Board for Pakistan’s (AKSWBP) Portfolio for Prevention of Substance Abuse here today.

This year’s theme for the World No Tobacco Day was ‘Tobacco Free Youth’ and the focus of Shaping a Better Life campaign was promotion of Life Skills Based Education and to empower the youth with skills necessary for living a healthy life.

The event was held as part of the Golden Jubilee celebrations of His Highness the Aga Khan, marking His fifty years of Imamat of the Ismaili Muslims around the world. The Golden Jubilee year includes a number of initiatives, programmes and developmental projects which are being organized nationally and  ternationally.

AKSWB,P joined hands with World Population Foundation (WPF) Pakistan to conduct a Life Skills Based Workshop for the school teachers from Ishkoman / Puniyal and Gupis / Yasin regions in the Northern Areas of Pakistan. The workshop was held at the Aga Khan Higher Secondary School, Gahkuch and was attended by 65 teachers from various Public, Private, Government, Aga Khan Education Service, Pakistan (AKES,P), and Community-Based and Religious Education Schools. The workshop saw an equal participation of male and female teachers.

The workshop started with an introductory session on Life Skills and Life Skills Based Education (LSBE), which was followed by an interactive session on problem solving, confidence building, communication, negotiation, peer pressure and decision-making skills.

Group discussions made the sessions interesting as the participants discussed various case studies and shared their experiences. The interactive workshop also provided the participants the opportunity to see the participative learning approach in action. Many participants openly shared the challenges they face when dealing with young learners and the solutions that have worked for them. The participants worked out lessons plans to be implemented when they go back to their schools. As part of the MoU signed between AKSWBP and WPF, three participants were selected who will be attending Master Training Workshop organized by WPF in Islamabad. The MoU will also enable more participants for the Master Trainees raining during the coming months.

WPF Pakistan also launched its Youth Advocacy Network (YAN) on this occasion and all the participants were given membership of YAN Pakistan. Each participant received a Certificate of Participation and comprehensive course material. They also received notebooks designed especially for this Golden Jubilee Programme.

Addressing the audience, Mr. Hussein Tajani, Chairman AKSWBP, urged the youth to serve as the ambassadors and spread the message to combat substance abuse. Ms. Salima Pirani, Convenor Portfolio for Prevention of Substance Abuse, reiterated the need to raise the voice against substance abuse and to work in a concerted way for a substance-free Pakistan through Life Skills based education.

At the closing, a walk, to celebrate the World No Tobacco Day, was held where around 1000 participants, including government officials, dignitaries, community leaders, school children, youth and other members of the local communities, participated. The walk participants carried banners and placards displaying messages about the importance of a healthy lifestyle.

The routes of the walks were decorated with colorful banners containing thought-provoking messages. The walk was followed by a unique Cultural Event which attracted a large number of men,women, children and youth from Gahkuch and nearby towns and villages. The event was graced by Mr. Mohd Ali Yougvi, Deputy Commissioner, Ghizer, Northern Areas, who ensured commitment of a drug free town and offered support to combat this menace in the community. The Cultural Event started with colorful cultural items, such as dramas, songs and cultural tableau performed by school children in Shina language.

Enthralling performances by local and regional artists and musicians raised the audience to their feet. The event was supported by the Serena Hotels as the Event Partner, World Population Foundation (WPF) as Training Partners for the workshops and Tapal Tea were the sponsor for the event.

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  1. Walks, rallies, seminars & workshops etc. are good tools for mass mobilization. Its indeed a commendable effort by the AKSWB to organize such events to raise awareness about the effects of substance abuse. But a more holistic approach is needed if we really want to make a difference. An approach based on objective research where it is possible to stratify the population and affectees of this curse and devise strategies to cope accordingly. Our experience tells us that over the past many years such unified strategies for different categories of population & affectees have not yielded the desired result. There has been a considerable increase in the number of youngster with more inclination towards drugs across the northern areas.

    What can be suggested to AKSWB and other institutions working for this cause is not only to focus the social and ethical ramifications of this abuse but also to start a campaign at school, college, and university levels, at different NGOs & Govt. Offices with the help of doctors to present the medical repercussions and with the help of researchers to present the economic losses in terms of solid verifiable data.

    Moreover, documentaries related to smoking, drinking etc. should be acquired from different TV channels and shown to students and employees. When people are ready to peruse it as threat to life, it will have more profound effect than merely citing it a social evil.

  2. all masseges should be in urdu if population is un educated and mostly people who are involve in it they are illitrate

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