The Hidden Jewel
By Tamara Sutila
UNICEF has piloted an innovative community empowerment project in the Kalat district in the southwestern province of Balochistan.
The project uses a technique called the Community Action Process - which consists of a series of steps to carry out a community project. It also makes sure that all members of a community, including those most disadvantaged such as women and children, are actively involved in identifying and solving community problems.
What follows is the story of Rashida Haroon Mengal, a young Pakistani woman who discovered what a gem she was through the community action process.
"My name is Rashida Harron Mengal. I live in the historical city of Kalat, which has pleasant weather and is situated 135 kilometers from Quetta, the capital of Balochistan.
I am the only daughter of my parents and I have four brothers. I come from a very conservative society where women usually do not get many opportunities for education and other social activities.
Being the only daughter, I am very dear to my parents. That is why I got a chance to become a science graduate. I wanted a master’s degree but my parents did not allow me to join university in Quetta. Now I am doing my bachelors in Education at Kalat because I am interested in teaching.
"I am also a Hafiza-e-Quran. This means that I have learnt the Holy Quran by heart and can recite it from memory.
During my school and college days, I was quite active in extra curricular activities and very fond of social work. Despite of all this, I was never confident enough. Although I have been doing social work for the last few years, I was not really aware of social problems in my community.
The first time I came for the training, I was completely veiled. I was nervous, scared and I wasn’t feeling very confident. But with the passage of time everything became all right. I now facilitate trainings organized for various groups from Kalat, and I work with full commitment in communities. I have helped develop so many female groups, and I have trained them to work as social mobilizers. I’m an entirely different person today, someone who can face the world and handle any situation.
I would never have become so confident if I had not gotten such an opportunity. I was raw and UNICEF helped refine me. I am extremely grateful. I would like to be a role model for the parents of Kalat so they educate their daughters and give them the confidence to work for the good of society."