When the Taliban overtook her village and began brainwashing her friends and family with hate speech; Jan, a young Peshwari woman, felt compelled to stop the them. Later that year, she attended training with our local partner in North East Pakistan, Aware Girls, where she learned about how to effectively combat the Taliban’s Islamist agenda. She now lectures upon countering violent-extremism to children in her community. This is her story:
‘When [the] Taliban started taking over our area, I didn’t know what to do. I knew how to write, so I started writing against them. They used to collect funds for constructing mosques and started conducting three-day trainings [where] they would preach hatred against [the] army and other people. I was never very religious, so I was not attracted to them.’
‘Writing against [the] Taliban did not seem enough. I felt the need to somehow stop [them], so I, along with a few of my friends, started to educate youth about peace and conflict resolution. I advised them to keep away from such groups.’
‘In 2013, I came across Aware Girls, and [began to attend] their training [sessions]. The most beneficial part of their training for me was the clarity they gave on the Taliban and their agenda. I sent some of the youth I work with to their trainings as well. I [then] started giving lectures on peace, conflict resolution and women’s history in the trainings organized by Aware Girls. I would educate [attendees] about what Islam actually says; citing references from Quran and Hadith in order to show them how they were being miss led from religion. Then I would tell them about the importance of education, take them to Peshawar for exposure visits to show them how educated people in developed cities are living peaceful lives.’
‘Gradually, I started conducting sessions with the youth who were being trained by Taliban. One of my students, Imran, who is very dear to me, had started attending [Taliban training] when he was in the 4th grade. Fortunately, because he is so close to me, I was able to revert him and sent him back to regular school. Now he is in the 8th grade. He writes very good poetry and looks after my library, which I have opened for youth to expand their horizons on the world, peace and pluralism.’
‘Things have changed considerably since the operation started. I hope that all this militancy ends soon.’
By donating to this project, you are enabling women like Jan to develop their skillset, and ultimately contribute to the health, safety, and peacefulness of their communities. With your support, we can provide training to more women like Jan, and in doing so help more young people to find alternatives to violent extremism. Thank you.
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