Muhammad Haroon '18 Featured in Davis Projects for Peace Report
The Women Empowerment Center, developed in Pakistan by Muhammad Haroon '18 with a grant from Davis Projects for Peace and support from Bennington's Field Work Term office, is featured in the organization's 2017 annual report.
From the 2017 Davis Projects for Peace Annual Report:
On the plains of Punjab, Muhammad Haroon '18 created a village community and education center, leasing a building and spending June renovating and repairing it, buying new furniture, and hiring the first of two teachers. Villagers volunteered to help. When the center opened, it offered local women lectures in health education, classes in adult literacy, and skills development in sewing and embroidery.
The course in skills development drew strong interest. The adult literacy offering did not, so Muhammad redirected the teacher he had hired for adult education to offer free tutoring to students in grades 6-10. Demand for that was so high that, with help from his family, he hired another teacher. Some 52 students enrolled for tutoring, more than twice the targeted number.
The center plans to continue offering the sewing and embroidery class as a three-month course, for 15 female students at a time. Ten students who completed the first cycle will be selected, Muhammad said, to each receive a grant equal to $50 U.S., plus receive training in financial management and business practices.
Muhammad also reached out to an NGO, the Bunyaad Foundation, which he says will be “an intermediary between the women making handicrafts and the commercial market in the cities.” He supplemented his PfP grant with $700 from his college’s Field Work Term office, and plans to stay in contact with the teachers and community leaders as the Women Empowerment Center continues its work.
WEC is not just a school where women get educated. It aims at empowering them by making them financially stable and active members of an otherwise patriarchal society. My efforts paid off when I saw passionate women leaving their homes every day with a hope to change their lives and those around them. I realized that often it is a small, passionate effort that makes a huge difference. Muhammad Haroon '18