Write for Peace – Celebrating Love through Letter Writing

Write for Peace – Celebrating Love through Letter Writing

Chitti Sarhad Parr Say – A Movement for Peace

In this crucial time, when relations between Pakistan and India are at a sensitive stage, it has become more important to promote peace, positivity and love among the two nations. While the drawing of our borders years ago declared us two separate nations, at heart, a Pakistani and an Indian are the same. They are born of the same homeland and in their hearts, they carry the same love. To explore and promote that love and to reminisce the past, we decided to do something. In collaboration with White Falcon Publishing, India , Daastan launched a #WriteForPeace letter-writing campaign.

Chitti Sarhad Parr Say– a letter-writing campaign which began in January 2020. It aimed at reconciling peace across borders through letter writing which is a long-forgotten art. Writers from both countries were requested to send in their letters for the campaign as part of a contest. This activity was mainly aimed at mending the relation between Pakistan and India. Letter writing is a very personal and emotional task that requires both the reader and writer to invest in a piece of paper. By doing so today, thousands of readers and writers got a chance to feel and connect with their counterparts.

The Love for Peace We Received

We received an enormous amount of love from both countries in shape of letters that touched us deeply. Daastan processed the entries from Pakistan while the submissions from our Indian writers were handled by the good folk at White Falcon. Letters from Pakistan were submitted in English and Urdu. From a huge number of submissions, 19 were short-listed. Selecting the letters from a pool of immensely talented Pakistani writers was one of the hardest tasks we had to do. Every submission was heart-felt, and struck a cord. The entries went beyond our expectations and we got to see some highly well-articulated letters.

The Selected Entries

We decided that the selected entries deserved a book of their own. So, in collaboration with White Falcon Publishing, India, Daastan chose some of the best entries to be compiled together in book form and be published digitally on Qissa–Pakistan’s first self-publishing platform. Qissa provides local writers an opportunity to publish their work and reach readers on a wide scale. Qissa has been publishing stories and anthologies since 2016 and aims to reinstate a literary culture in Pakistan.

The entries that spoke to us (and in some cases, made us tear up!) are:

English:

Sami Ghazal

Afraz Jabeen

Syma Tasaduq

Mahnoor Nadeem

Urdu:

Qudsia Batool

Iqra Nadeem

Filza Kamal

Hajra Imran Khan

Fatima Khan

Muhammad Ali

Areeba Sheikh

Naheed Akhtar Baloch

Alina Irfan

Kursum Fatima

Dr Fiaz Ahmad Dar

Sadia Mazhar

Ifrah Ahmed Malik

Hania Armiya

All writers showcased great skill and talent. We were moved by the gush of emotions that each letter brought with itself. Stories of pain, suffering, love and tragedy were all equally spell-bounding. A small peek into one of our short-listed letters read:

‘At the time of departure our hearts were crying. Do you know why we don’t come back? Because things never did get settled. I know you cursed me early the next morning when you came to our house for breakfast and no one was there. I know you wept bitterly when the walls and swings in my courtyard didn’t answer your questions. I know you asked every passerby about us.’

-Afraz Jabeen

Chitti Sarhad Parr Say was an attempt in writing for peace at a time when atrocities between the two countries are increasing every day. The medium of letter writing perfectly complements the campaign as letters provide a very personal account of one’s feelings which the reader can easily relate to. The bond between the two countries is above political agendas and must be achieved so through a positive communication. We, at Daastan, promote the ideology of peace and love through words. Help us grow by sharing your stories and becoming a part of the Published writers in Pakistan simply by signing up with us @ Daastan.

You can also read the book here.

Get A Chance to Attend The APYE Program!

Get A Chance to Attend The APYE Program!

This year in August, Daastan’s founder Syed Ommer Amer was selected to go on a trip to Bangkok, Thailand. He was to take part in the Asia Pacific Youth Exchange program– a platform which brings together top young leaders from all around the Asia Pacific region. The program was organized by Urban Youth Academy (UYA) and powered by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The APYE Program

The APYE is a two-weeks intensive program that aims at increasing awareness among youth about global problems. The program helps them develop and enhance skills to combat those problems by taking initiative. Combining activity-based learning, immersion from local communities and leadership training, APYE encourages youth to take action furthering the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).


. The program helps them develop and enhance skills to combat those problems by taking initiative. Combining activity-based learning, immersion from local communities and leadership training, APYE encourages youth to take action furthering the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

Daastan in APYE-2019

The theme for this year’s APYE was Sustainable Tourism and with 116 delegates from 15 countries, the competition could not get any tougher. The participants were divided into groups and had to devise applicable solutions to address some of the most pressing problems faced by Thai villages and their inhabitants.

Daastan’s CEO, Ommer Amer, leading a group of six dedicated and hardworking individuals from different countries came up with an innovative digital toolkit to help local businesses market themselves. For their unique idea, they bagged the 2nd prize at the APYE. From a cultural perspective, the experience was rich and enabled Ommer to take part in many interactive activities such as Canal Cleaning Drive, Mini marathon and Thai Cultural Dance.   

Your Chance to Shine in APYE-2020

After the success at the intercultural exchange event, Daastan decided to go one step ahead and partner with APYE to provide an all-expenses paid trip for next year’s programme. We’re looking for dedicated entrepreneurs, aged 18-28. You should have a basic understanding of SDGs in Action and posses critical thinking skills. Fluency in English and strong leadership qualities are a must and specialized skills such as ability to code, design, paint, write, sing, play, build and plan using digital technology would secure you an edge!

You will be able to learn and train with the 2nd prize winner of APYE and leader of his group: our very own founder, Mr. Syed Ommer Amer for 2 days. Learning from his experience and sharpening your social entrepreneurship skills. The challenge is to win the first prize at the APYE for Pakistan! The schedule for the 2-day training is as follows:

Day 1:

  • Intro to APYE
  • Identifying Problem and Interview Ethics
  • Mock Interviews of local leaders
  • Prototyping solutions

Day 2:

  • Project Exhibition
  • Project Pitching
  • Results

Regular fee including all expenses per delegate is around $2500. However, participants trained by Daastan only have to pay a non-refundable fee of 25,000 PKR— all other expenses including air fare and lodgings will be covered by us. Moreover, you can avail an additional discount of 5000 Rs by registering by 30th Sep, 2019.

Do you have what it takes to become APYE’s champion?! If so, gear up to bring the first prize home and register now by filling out this form. For more information, you can check out our Facebook event page or leave a comment down below.  

Daastan’s First Punjabi Writing Competition

Daastan’s First Punjabi Writing Competition

Daastan’s vision for the revival of literature was never limited to the widely used language English or Urdu. Qissa, a self-publishing portal, is was one of the first forums to recognize the need for an online tool that allows users to write in Punjabi language. Our team then worked hard to bring on board specialists that helped us realize the dream of thousands of writers. Revival of these dying languages became our mission. And so, Daastan finally upgraded its tool into one that accepted most of the regional languages of Pakistan.

Likh Punjabi:

To further this idea, Daastan in collaboration with Punjabi Parchar, launched its very first regional language Writing Competition, “Likh Punjabi”. Punjabi Parchar is a hub of intellectuals working exclusively for the preservation and promotion of Punjabi literature, art and culture. The editor of Punjabi at Daastan, Ali Usman Bajwa, helped bring them on board with us – and became project manager for the module. Such a competition being held in the language which is very dear to his heart was his lifelong dream. At Daastan the team is willing to work day and night to bring the dreams of their family to reality.

Dream Turned Reality:

Our writing competition became an excellent initiative to revive and rebrand Punjabi literature. It helped us reach the legendary authors who refused to part with their ancestral language. Due to this movement, we got the opportunity to work with local authors. By helping them digitize their stories and preserve their work, we laid a new hope for the revival of these languages.

If you are a writer writing in local language and are looking to publish your work, Daastan is the perfect place for you. Sign Up with us and fulfill your dreams today!

Rounding Up the South Asian Literati through Stories

Rounding Up the South Asian Literati through Stories

Come the summer of 2018, having just successfully conducted a ground breaking season of The Stories Untold, Daastan teamed up with a few others who were also in the race to bring quality literature to their readers. Since its inception, Daastan and Qissa have scaled, and eventually launched a writing competition which was dubbed Literati. The team was once again taking not only Pakistan by storm, but also slowly but surely taking over the world too. And so, to bring another round of thought-provoking stories that made one bite their nails with the anticipation of what was coming next, we opened the award for participants from all over South Asia.

Literati Micro Fiction:

Literati was brought to the public in collaboration with White Falcon Publishing, a company that provided the services of self-publishing much the same way as us and encouraged quality literature to find its way to the surface, but across the border in India. Another collaborator of the micro story writing competition was Outcast, a queer lit magazine which was founded by a graduated Literary Fellow of Daastan. The authors of the micro fiction award were given a time period of one month, in which they were to write short stories with no more than 2500 words on the themes of “The Fifth Rivulet” and “Mosaiced Souls”. The themes themselves were enough to get any true storyteller thinking and dreaming in their world of imagination, spinning and weaving tales which would eventually find their way to our screens.

Daastan, in collaboration with White Falcon Publishing and Outcast Magazine, launches Literati Competition

The Result:

The award was closed a month after its launch, and all the partners were delighted to received more than a hundred submissions of gripping and awe-inspiring literature. The submissions were all carefully reviewed, and the top 20 were selected. These finalists would receive the exciting prize of seeing their work go into print, along with exclusive opportunities to further their career as a writer.

[Results] We are pleased to announce that the management team of LITERATI 2018 comprising of Daastan, White Falcon Publishing and Outcast Magazine congratulates the finalists.We received around 100 submissions from all over South Asia and after carefully reviewing each submission, we are pleased to announce that we now, finally have the TOP 20.These authors will be getting their stories published in PRINT, sponsored by WHITE FALCON PUBLISHING. We have lot of awesomeness coming up in next few weeks.It was a pleasure having you all. We will be back next year in June 2019. Till then adios.#Daastan #WhiteFalconPublishing #Outcast #Literati #SouthAsianAward #MicroFiction #PrintPublishing #WritingEvent #Competition

Posted by Daastan on Sunday, August 5, 2018

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Daastan Joins Hands with Al-Huda International

Daastan Joins Hands with Al-Huda International

The establishment of Daastan was not just a step towards bringing the writers of Pakistan to get themselves recognized, rather also to utilize and improve the education sector of Pakistan. Our foremost mission was to spread knowledge and for this , we welcomed every opportunity to engage and positively modify the current state of education. Our Founder, Mr. Syed Ommer Amer, collaborated with Al-Huda to engage children in a different learning experiece. Mr Ommer has been writing stories to attract children to learn in unconventional ways. A previous example of this was the animated series Teetoo and Tania, aired on PTV, the script of which was written by Mr. Ommer himself.

Daastan x Al-Huda:

Therefore, we acquired the chance to partner with Al-Huda International in Wah Cantt. The team of Daastan generated tailored content, which aimed to enhance the learning experience of the 700+ students enrolled in the school. We wanted to promote learning through storytelling, which would thoroughly capture the interest of students listening and therefore learn from the story.

Mr. Ommer on Color Day in Al Huda Int. Wah Cant., narrating his story

Painting the World with Words:

Daastan ran its first prototype of this vision of proliferation of knowledge through stories, on more than a hundred students. The tale which was read to them was titled “Bakhshu Mian”. The story was written and read by Mr Ommer Amer himself. It was a treasure trove which highlighted the importance of being grateful for the blessings endowed upon us. The recital was aptly written for the “Color Day” theme which was being celebrated in the school. The story taught students moral values in order to help them recognize their privileges over others.

If you want us to revamp the teaching structure of your school you can drop us an email at merasawal@daastan.com. Let’s start transforming the future together. Sign Up today to change tomorrow!

Hoisting the Flag of Literature All Over Pakistan

Hoisting the Flag of Literature All Over Pakistan

After diving headfirst into the Olympiad culture and sponsoring numerous talent hunting competitions in the span of just a few months, Daastan started attracting the attention of the big names in the community and getting invited not just to help groom the talent, but also share our experience and inspire those who might want to walk down the same path. And so, with this, we zeroed in on providing sponsorship, technical and media related support, and marketing to the literature exclusive festivals and happenings across Pakistan. The team would then help those interested find their way to their first self-published works through Qissa, empowering them to monetize their hobby and – if they chose so – to make a career out of it.

A Seminar on Feminism:

The first of such events was a seminar titled “Feminism in Language, Literature and Marketplace”, organized on Women’s Day, where Daastan’s founder, Mr. Syed Ommer Ammer, was invited as a guest speaker. Ommer shared the success stories of Ms. Laiba Sehrish Nawaz – the youngest published author of Peshawar, Ms. Lareb Soomro – the youngest published author or Sindh and Ms. Faiza Kayani a police commando who defied all odds to chase her dream and published her first book through Qissa. He also spoke about how Daastan was enabling women voice their opinions through their stories, and also gain financial independence by training them to generate revenue from their writings and connecting them to resources which can help them do so.

NUST and LUMS Literary Fests:

Just a couple weeks after that, we sponsored not only the National Literary Festival by NUST in Islamabad, but also one of the biggest campus based literary festivals in all of Pakistan, i.e. the LUMS Literary Festival 2018. Through Daastan, the literary festivals received judges to adjudicate all their competitions, discounts on all books published on Qissa, the chance to talk to our team and learn more about utilizing digital tools to help them carve their out their niche in the industry. Not only this, the winners of the LUMS Literary Festival received wild card entries to the finalists of the on-going season of ‘The Stories Untold’, through which the authors would all go into print for free through Daastan.

If you want us to sponsor you event, or provide support, send us an email at merasawal@daastan.com.

Drawing out Local Talent:

This led us to powering events which were showcasing local languages, such as the Punjab Festival 2018, where our delegate Ms. Diya Khan who is a Daastan Literary Fellow and a teacher by profession, represented Daastan. The festival was organized by Punjab Institute of Languages and Culture, to promote the Punjabi language and its culture.

Panel discussion at Punjab Festival 2018

Our vision is to publish 100,00 manuscripts, are you with us in this fight to make our country more literate? To keep yourself updated follow us on Facebook.