I AM KARACHI Day 2016: Karachi Matters! – Hip in Pakistan

First #IAK Awards honor citizen heroes

I Am Karachi presented the first ever I AM KARACHI Awards to honor the contribution of the city’s dedicated and unrecognized heroes at Frere Hall, on the occasion of the second official I AM Karachi Day on March 26th 2016.

The inaugural IAK AWARDS have established themselves as the only civic responsibility and diversity awards, exclusively for the residents of this city. The awards recognize visionary individuals who have shown inspirational resilience, hope, pride, and determination.The award function was headlined by a spell binding rock-symphonic version of the national anthem by Sounds of Kolachi, with the talented youth of Karachi joining them. Award winning pop stars Sara Haider, Zoe Viccaji, and traditional singers were also showcased at the event.

President of IAK, Jameel Yusuf, described IAK DAY as a “celebration of the success of the city’s resilient spirit”, and announced that the awards will be given out throughout the course of the year.

IAK DAY ceremonies were hosted by Karachi icons Deepak Perwani and Atiya Khan, who discussed the need for a diverse culture in a mega-city like Karachi. This was followed by a speech from the Vice President of society for IAK, Mr. Amin Hashwani, who announced the official launch of a city-wide ‘IAK Sports Festival’ that will begin next month. Founding member Ms. Rumana Hussain also announced the launch of a new wave of IAK ‘Walls of Peace’ – where young artists cover hateful graffiti with their artistic creations to reclaim public space. In an unprecedented display of support, several academics, business leaders, and celebrities attended the function to show their love for the city and those honored. Awards were distributed by notable figures including Ronak Lakhani, Zubaida Mustafa, Talat Hussain, Ishrat Hussain, and Fuzon.

Here is a list of some awards that were given out at the event –

Hope Award – Kaifi Khalil

Hailing from Lyari, Kaifi used his passion for music to block out the negativity surrounding him. He grew up taking care of himself and found solace in music.Along the way he was introduced to Nida Butt and Hamza Jaffri’s MAD School, where he received formal musical training free of cost from renowned musicians.

Ownership Award – Sohail Khan

Sohail Khan is a young change maker from Bengali Para in Korangi who founded a school in his neighborhood after noticing a lack of access to quality education for children in the area. Upon realizing that most people in his area were sending their children to work for daily wages, he took matters into his own hands. His school now enrolls over 100 children from Bengali Para. He runs the institution while he continues to complete his own studies.

Inclusivity Award – Imran Ghanchi

Having contracted polio as a young boy, Imran felt his exclusion acutely. He was unable to study past elementary school because there were no provisions to make movement easier for disabled students. In 2007, Imran bought a rickshaw and made modifications to it in order to be able to drive it commercially. His work led him to get in touch with the ‘Network of Organizations Working with People with Disabilities’, where he is now part of ‘The Rickshaw Project’ as a supervisor. With ‘The Rickshaw Project’, Imran became part of a team that trained individuals with disabilities as rickshaw drivers, helping them apply for commercial licenses.

Resilience Award – Mahira

Mahira is well known throughout Lyari for her courage and resilience. She began to provide tuitions to girls in her community, tutoring them until they were ready to enroll in formal schools. She spent four years of savings to set up a tuition center for girls and then went on to her next goal: a café for women in an area where community spaces for women were mostly unheard of. Her efforts resulted in her receiving threats from various gangs and political parties in Lyari, but Mahira refused to cow down in the face of intimidation. She not only created a community space for women, but also ensured that it thrived. In 2013, Mahira founded ‘Woman is a Nation’, an organization which focuses on women’s education with the larger aim of providing civic knowledge, skills, and opportunities for women to become positive influencers in their community.

Diversity Award – Atif bin Arif

The man behind ‘Super Savari Express’ is Atif bin Arif, who noticed that the city’s residents had become woefully unaware of the rich and diverse cultural heritage it possesses. He began guided tours which aimed to display the city’s diversity, stopping at temples, churches, and mosques belonging to minority groups in the city, as well as other historical sites and cultural institutions. Gaining access to these places, however, was not easy. In this climate of fear and insecurity, Atif had to knock on various doors in order to get the necessary permissions required for the citizens of Karachi to experience the beauty of their own city.

Pride Award – Sabina Khatri

She isn’t just a teacher for the children who attend the Kiran School in Lyari, but is also a mentor and a parent figure for these children. Established in 2006, the Kiran School enrolls bright young minds from Lyari, preparing them for admission to prestigious schools in the city. Her work is not limited to just educating the children. While her mornings are reserved for children, in the evenings Sabina conducts classes for their mothers, going through the material their children will be taught, so that they are able to help them with homework. Her philosophy is that if the children of Lyari are able to gain access to better opportunities and education, they will be able to improve their own circumstances.

The event was a grand equalizer with citizens from all areas and strata uniting to mark the occasion, as could be seen in a visualization activity where residents of Karachi could mark their homes on a giant map. Commissioner Karachi, Asif Hyder Shah, praised the spirit of citizenship and said that if the citizens of Karachi will stand united, only then is there hope for a prosperous Sindh, and then eventually, a flourishing Pakistan.
Published by March 29, 2016

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