Daastan has organized some of Pakistan’s most exciting writing competitions, offering prizes and opportunities for growth to the winners. Our competitions have helped us gather an army of talented writers. We have also had the honor of publishing the best works, especially from the winning submissions of The Stories Untold.
One of our competitions that we organized in the summer of 2018 was in collaboration with White Falcon Publishing and Outcast Magazine. The competition was titled the ‘South Asian Award for Micro Fiction, Literati‘. The themes of this competition were ‘The Fifth Rivulet‘ and ‘Mosaiked Souls‘. After receiving hundreds of submissions the first time, we decided to hold another season of the same competition again!
This time around, we received an even more overwhelming number of submissions from all over South Asia, on the themes of ‘Folklore Retold’ and ‘Apocalypse-The End of Humans’. The pool of South Asia’s most creative and daring writers came up with jaw-droppingly brilliant ideas that awed our judges. Daastan was happy to see submissions from some of its veteran writers and even more thrilled to spot new faces.
From over a hundred submissions, we chose our Top 20 finalists and set out to interview them! We wanted to know what the most innovative and imaginative minds in South Asia were like. The interviews included questions about their likes and dislikes, the hardships they had faced and their very first reads. We also took suggestions from them regarding opportunities for writers in South Asia. It was great getting to know our writers in person.
How Writing Competitions Help Writers Grow
One constant that we noticed in these interviews was that all of them had, at one point, suffered from the lack of opportunities in the writing industry. This ever-expanding void stunted their growth in the field of writings and became a big hindrance in their path to becoming professionals.
Team Daastan recognizes the need to help writers realize their dream and monetize their work. To convert a simple hobby into a way of earning and growing. We believe that earning recognition and appreciation for their works helps encourage writers to go forward and become strong-minded individuals who influence society positively through writing.
Want to get published by us? Upload your manuscript on Qissa! For more information, we are always ready to listen at firstname.lastname@example.org
#WeToo is Daastan’s Story Writing campaign based on Sexual and Reproductive health issues. The aim behind this campaign is to promote Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) in Pakistan. In many countries including Pakistan, discussing Sexual and Reproductive health issues is considered a taboo. Seeking medical help is out of question for many. A huge amount of people living in Rural areas lack even the basic knowledge regarding SRHR. Story writing is a powerful tool to help spread awareness. We are thankful to our writers who always participate enthusiastically in our campaigns and invite you all to be a part of our cause.
What is SRHR and #WeToo?
#WeToo is the name of our story writing campaign. It derives its meaning from the context of #metoo – sexual harrasment campaign. #WeToo focuses on how men and women are not allowed to share their sexual and reproductive health issues simply because it is considered shameful. SRHR stands for Sexual Reproductive Health Rights. Sexual health is the physical, mental and social security of men and women. Sexual rights are the rights associated with one’s sexuality,sexual privacy and pleasure. Each one of us has a right to make descisions for ourselves. Marriage does not give your partner the right to dictate your sexual life and this needs to be accepted and respected.
Reproductive health rights are the basic rights to decide for your reproductive capability. Deciding when and if to have children is your right. Couples should be allowed to mutually decide and carry out family planning. Seeking medical help and consultation and not being discriminated against for doing so is also part of your reproductive rights.
Details of #WeToo
We are looking for authentic stories that highlight the harsh realities we face in Pakistan. Domestic abuse, marital rape, having no consent in family planning, being harrased online by threats to leak your private information or pictures on the internet are all around us. We witness these stories on a day to day basis but in whispers and private chats. By bringing these stories to the forefront, we want to show support to the victims and make the perpetrators feel threatened. We hope to educate our public on what their rights are so that next time they are being shamed, they know how to defend themselves.
Word limit for the story writing competition is 1500-2000 words. You can have a look at the themes and submit your stories on this link. If you support our cause and want to be a part of something meaningful, sign up with us today and play your part. Every voice matters!
It is true that political, social or religious differences must be accommodated. Borders are drawn to avoid conflict and allow people to live in a peace. Geographical divisions may seem like a progressive idea today. However, decision makers do not and can not speak for all people. Amidst these divisions, ties of love, friendship and generational attachments have to be torn. These barbed wires that mark borders, scratch and wound those who have to cross them over.
We can’t possibly mend the 73 year old political enmity, but we can surely rise above these institutional differences and talk about our narrative. The narrative of the marginalized ones. Perhaps the most marginalized in the division of sub-continent were all those whocould not cease to love and feel for their lost comrades.
An Attempt at making Peace Across Borders
To establish and spread the narrative of the literati in both countries, Daastan from Pakistan and White Falcon Publishing from India, initiated a Letter writing movement. We invited writers to send in their letters to express their concerns for regional peace. Writers could write in prose or poetry. Daastan received letters in Urdu, English and Hindi, following the main theme: regional peace.
We, atDaastan, received letters from all across Pakistan. We were amazed by the energetic response by the talent in our country. All these letters were extremely emotional and beautiful. Our team was deeply touched by the effort put in by the talented writers from all around Pakistan. The aim behind this movement was to simply acknowledge the fact that no matter how these divisions have shaped our history and geography, love and friendship can break all walls. These letters and their writers are legitimaterepresentatives of peace from both countries. The powerful voices that echo from our television screens, can not mute the narrative of peaceful co-existence.
We aim to keep connecting readers and writers in an attempt to grow and engage in literary activities. If you share our love and passion of literature, sign up with us at Daastan and let us grow together!
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:
Intro to APYE
Identifying Problem and Interview Ethics
Mock Interviews of local leaders
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.
At the start of the year, Daastan’s Founder Syed Ommer Amer received the thrilling news of having been selected as a fellow for the National SDG Bootcamp, happening at the National Incubation Center Islamabad. Daastan was among 22 other social enterprises chosen to be a part of the bootcamp. The workshop was concluded with a National Dialogue event titled the SDG Changemaker’s Summit. The winners of the bootcamp were selected, and Daastan had the honor of being one of them.
What is SDG Bootcamp?
The SDG Bootcamp was a 4-day, first-of-its-kind, entrepreneurship bootcamp which happened in collaboration with DEMO and UNDP Pakistan. Selected social enterprise founders who were helping the nation achieve Sustainable Development Goals were taken on a journey of extensive training so as to enhance their pitch for funds, social impact, financial models and outreach.
Daastan had a lifetime opportunity, and was presented in front of more than 1000 delegates from over 20 countries. Ommer communicated how Daastan was empowering the literary community by helping writers and revamping the literary industry at the national level. If you are a writer who wants to get the most out of their work, sign up with us on Qissa.
With this opportunity, Daastan went global and is now actively collaborating with international partners. Following their dream of using literature as a means of earning for writers, Daastan is paving the way for a new tomorrow free from stigma, illiteracy, conflict and intolerance.
Since its inception, Daastan has had a very positive history with Telenor’s different initiatives for entrepreneurs and startups. Daastan was selected as a part of the Telenor Velocity business accelerator program in the year of 2016. We had the opportunity to closely work with telenor throughout the course of the year that followed. Since then, we have been featured multiple times on social media channels of Telenor’s programs for our different achievements.
Telenor Youth Forum:
In August 2018, the sixth edition of Telenor Youth Forum was held in Islamabad. This initiative was held in collaboration with theNobel Peace Center, bringing together smart minds from all over the world to develop digital solutions that curb inequalities, and empower societies. The Youth Forum focuses on encouraging ideas that have high social impact and which support the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) put forth by the UN for international development. Winners of Telenor Youth Forum include renowned figures. Saad Hamid, a digital evangelist, Fatima Rizwan, founder of TechJuice.com, Haroon Yasin, founder of Orenda & receiver of Queen’s Young Leaders Award and Sajawal Waseem are a few names.
Our Journey Through the Forum:
Over 3500 participants with unique ideas applied for the top spot in the platform. Daastan’s founder, Mr. Syed Ommer Amer’s presentation talked about a severe dearth of opportunities for the citizens of our country to showcase their work. The presentation showcased Daastan’s efforts in building a digital infrastructure for the literary industry of Pakistan. With Daastan’s digital portal Qissa, and its newly launched mobile app Daastan Nama, the company had been successful in reaching hundreds of creatives. Through these platforms, Daastan helped creatives bring their work forward to be shared with the world. Daastan was ranked top 10 in the competition, and was featured on many of Telenor’s platforms for its achievement.
We believe in providing opportunities to artists, writers and creatives. Be a part of our struggle and Sign up with us to promote local talent. Together we must grow!