Report of Educational and Academic Trip of United Kingdom (UK) 4th July to 17th July 2002
18 Oct 2002
In the month of July 2002 I again found an opportunity to go to UK to continue my on going research activities. The funding was provided by some friends in UK and from couple of friends in Pakistan for the airfare I traveled by PIA on discount fare a
I was able to see some charities (NGOs) in UK working in the different fields of social development, which are working on minority rights, family planning and youth development. First of all I met with London based organization working for the facilitation to the Pakistani Christian community in terms of providing them support in legal and settlement matters. I met with Nasir Saeed Co-ordinator Center for Legal Aid Assistance & Settlement (CLASS). Mr. Nasir Saeed was working on the preparation of report on minority's situation in Pakistan. I informed him required information during mutual discussion focusing on the socio economic conditions of the minorities. This organization CLASS showed their interest to start their work in Karachi with my possible support.
The Minority Rights Group (MRG) is a prominent charity in UK in minority's issues. I met with their research co-ordinator for Asia Ms. Shelina Thawer in the head office of Minority Rights Group. We discussed activities of this charity in Asia. I was informed that Minority Rights Group is going to publish their first report on Pakistan related to minorities in coming few months. I identified areas to work in terms of research and community work for the MRG. I shared with them my research and future plans wishing to participate actively in the programs of the MRG expected to be started in Pakistan in near future. After this I visited the head offices of International Planned Parenthood Foundation (IPPF), which is a funding charity that is working all around the world on population planning and youth development. The Family Planning Association of Pakistan in which I am member of Youth Development group Jeat Caravan is also working as a partner of IPPF London. I met with Mr. Mohammad Imtiaz Programme Co-ordinator South Asia Regional Office IPPF and Ms. Carel dealing Human Rights and Reproductive Health issues. I informed them on going activities of the Youth Group of Karachi as well as its past activities. I also informed them about the on going activities of FPAP Karachi as an out side observer. Mr. Imtiaz and other staff were quite move positively after visiting me on the performance of Jeat Caravan. I received wonderful response from the office and almost everyone in the office received and treated me warmly. They were happy and were of the view that it's amazing that someone starts his careers as a volunteer and come to us at his own. They took it as a sign of great performance of FPAP for boosting the moral of the youth and to provide them an opportunity to develop their acquired knowledge and skills. They said that they considered me as a product of youth activities of Jeat Caravan. I was informed of the administrative infrastructure of the IPPF at National and International level. The representative of the IPPF also shared their current working strategies with me. They encouraged me a lot to continue the work with current enthusiasm and Mr. Imtiaz asks me to be in contact with him. They also pre-tested one questionnaire about the FPAP south Asia and Pakistan with me which was also very interesting exercise. I informed them about the technical support provided by FPAP Karachi Youth Section, which also inspired them. On the whole I spent two to three hours in their offices receiving amazing protocol as a volunteer of Jeat Caravan and as a young visitor. I think my visit will increase the confidence and image of IPPF of FPAP Pakistan especially of Jeat Caravan. I also talked with them about the present ongoing performance of Youth Help line, which also inspired them. I discussed with them how I talked about local radio channel about the work of Jeat Caravan and Youth Help line.
Later I visited couple of organizations working for the Blind people in UK specially working in the field of computer training and development for the blind. I visited Royal National Institute for the Blind and saw all the electronic aids available for the blind to support them to enhance their professional capabilities. I saw computers, electronic talking dictionaries and diaries and portable note taker multi function electronic machine supporting the blind people to carry on their professional and business work with the full command. In RNIB I met with Mr. Parish and Mark who gave me all the briefings they also informed me about the International Exhibition which was going to be held on 16th July 2002 in Birmingham and invited me to participate in it. This exhibition was held in Birmingham in which all the International companies displayed their all the available products to support the blind people. This was wonderful experience in which I developed relations with Catholic Blind Services UK I spent whole day there and looked for future prospects for me in terms of computer training.
I also visited the Head Offices of BBC Bush House in London and met with Mr. Nasir Abbas Editor BBC Urdu. I spent one hour with them and observe how the transmission for Pakistan in Urdu is worked out. I also discussed with them about the activities of my research project of Ph.D. and shared my views on social and minority's issues focusing on socio economic aspects. I have been very respectful to the BBC since my childhood because it is an important radio channel that helped me a lot to understand the international scenario in terms of politics, economic and social sciences. It was like a dream's fulfillment for me to visit and to have coffee with them.
In regard to the visits of Catholic Church in the UK I visited Children Welfare Society of Dioceses of Westminster London where my one friend is Deputy Director. I visited their couple of projects that this charity is running for the homeless children. I moreover participated in annual general meeting of Catholic Church Association of Racial Justice this is a charity commissioned by Catholic Church to promote racial justice in multi cultural British society focusing on youth. This was wonderful experience to observe how the charities in first world work and how they organize their programs. I met with some human rights activists and visited Bishop Trip former president of this Charity and Present Director Mr. Steven Caurier and discussed with them my other activities and back at home. I had also an opportunity to visit Lords Cricket Ground, which is considered a holy place of Cricket. We also visited Head Offices of International Cricket Council (ICC) and met with their Pubic Relation Staff in a guided tour. I saw scientific and modern media center of Lords Cricket Ground and walk all around feeling proud for being at very important international stadium.
Last but not least on the vary last day I visited Mr. John Batle Advisor to the Prime Minister UK on Interfaith and Minority Issues in House of Common Parliament of United Kingdom I was received by Secretary of the John Batle. First of all John Batle walked around with me through the different sections of the Parliament and later we had coffee and formal discussion for almost 100 minutes. I asked from him about the viewpoint of British Government on situation of minorities in Pakistan and UK and informed him from the views and my on going research on minorities' issues he raised some questions during the discussion of my research. He agreed with me to start some work for the minorities at grass root level. In this duration we also discussed some other prevailing national and international issues related to the international politics, economy, social development and interfaith issues. This was good privilege for me, which boosted my confidence I also informed him about the organizations that are working for the minorities in Pakistan and their actual working situation in my views. I wished him to focus on Pakistan and India at community level to promote interfaith harmony by involving real community leadership both of Sub-Continent and UK. I also suggested him to focus on socio economic development the people of sub continent that will ultimately promote peace and unity among the masses. The purpose of this visit was to know about the on going activities of the British Govt. on interfaith issues to clarify concept of interfaith and to clarify my concept.
In terms of results I can say this trip was 70% successful for me. I can summarize acquired advantages in following:
1. I improved my English skill.
2. I collected some research material for my M.Phil/Ph.D.
3. I visited some new people of different walks of life and establish my contact with them that will be helpful in future.
4. This time I stayed with English family that's why I was able to observe typical English life.
5. I came to know how organizations in first world countries work and conduct their programmes.
6. This tour helped me to understand the social welfare setup of Church in UK.
7. This trip helped me in finding some educational research and academic support from some intellectual scholars.
8. This trip helped me to understand the setup of Charities (NGOs) in UK.
9. I was able to learn the general prevailing concept about the people of Pakistan in the minds of English people and got many new ideas about different aspects of social life.
10. I was also able to establish contact with new charities (NGOs), which will increase my networking skill.
In short this was useful trip and besides above benefits it help me to boost my confidence to work at international level and to participate and represent specific organization and Pakistan across the world. I will try to incorporate all this learning's of this trip unlike last one in my professional life and later.