We’re Back with the Second Batch of the Hit Initiative – Daastan’s Literary Fellowship

We’re Back with the Second Batch of the Hit Initiative – Daastan’s Literary Fellowship

Daastan launched its very first Literary Fellowship program in the fall of 2016, which turned out to be a huge success and an instant hit. This not only benefited the fellows, who were given multiple opportunities and exposed to a plethora of resources and networks, but it also helped the team of Daastan meet a very cool bunch of people seeking to improve the landscape of the literary industry in Pakistan. Upon their graduation some of them were also be taken on board – especially those who wanted to join in the cool happenings of our space.

The Second Batch:

With another year coming to a close, the team decided to make the Fellowship a recurring one, so as to spread the message of the revival of literature, by enabling people who were interested to come see it first hand and become a part of it as well. With the announcement of Batch Two of the Literary Fellowship program, submissions rolled in by the dozens. This time around, the team received more than a hundred applications, double the amount received for the debut batch. The applications were screened thoroughly, and around 40 people were shortlisted and called for an online interview session. A friendly discussion was carried out with each to determine their passion for literature, their willingness to work for the achievements of their dreams, and their past involvements in our field. It was an even harder job to screen for and select the bunch that would be joining Daastan for the next three months, but eventually 25 people were chosen to comprise the second batch of the Literary Fellowship. The selection was made on the basis of their clarity of vision, their justification for the claims they provided in the application form, as well as their relevant experience.

Poster for the Second Batch of the Literary Fellowship

The Literary Achievements of the Fellowship:

This time around, the fellowship was divided into four categories, i.e. Marketing, Editing, Digitizing and Design, and each fellow was made a part of the module they favored and/or the module best fit for them according to their experience. What came together was a group astounding in abilities which, after being groomed, bagged multiple prizes. Two of the fellows, Ms Maham Syedain, and Ms Arooha Arif won Silver and Bronze in US Story Writing competition, and Ms. Nadia won an Urdu writing competition on The Ancient Souls. Several of the fellows were featured all over the digital media for their different achievements, and a big bunch of them went on to graduate as well. Chief among them was Ms. Fatema Bhaiji, who launched a Queer-Lit magazine designed specifically for literature focused on the LGBTQ+ community named “Outcast”. Another fellow, Ms. Arooha Arif, launched a book club in her hometown to encourage readership and connect like-minded people, and yet another graduate Ms. Sameen Aziz launched a digitizing company by the name of “Harf Nagar”, focused on providing digitizing and bringing handwritten content to print ready form. Many of the graduates were hired into the team and given various positions. The highlights of the second batch’s achievements can be viewed here.

Daastan Opens the Gateway to Literary Stardom by Launching its Literary Fellowship

Daastan Opens the Gateway to Literary Stardom by Launching its Literary Fellowship

As the winter of 2016 rolled in, with the Qissa self-publishing up and running and Daastan’s founder Syed Ommer Ammer enrolled in Telenor’s Velocity Program looking to scale the company and redefine the industry as per Daastan’s vision, the team decided to kickstart a fellowship program. The program, dubbed the Literary Fellowship, would enlist and take on fresh minds who were seeking to disrupt and change the game in the literary industry, but were lacking the opportunity or the proper guidance to do so. The team, having many such obstacles while trying to reach out to the public themselves, wanted to pave the way and make it easier for those who wanted to follow in their suit, and equip them with cheers and support rather than rejections and sneers.

The Launch and Subsequent Response:

The call for submissions for the debut batch went out in the September of 2016, and to our surprise more than 50 people applied for the program. Each submission was carefully pored over, to make sure the group that would be a part of the team in the upcoming three months were doers and believers who could push past their comfort zones. They were initially shortlisted to a group of almost 25 people, and after an interview session, the number was reduced down to the final 15, and that is when the magic began.

Literary Fellows of the Debut Batch

The Course of the Fellowship:

Over the next three months, the mentors from Daastan laboured day in and day out with their assigned mentees. Each fellow was given tailor made tasks to enhance their specific skill set, along with targeted guidance to help them do their work efficiently. The fellows were encouraged to come up with projects of their own, which Daastan would help them develop, launch, market and scale so at the end of the three-month period they would have a sustainable venture of their own to build on. After a few months it became clear, the fellowship program had become a huge hit.

Success Stories:

The success stories of the debut batch included Ms. Mahnoor Naseer, who co-founded a global digital publishing platform by the name of The Ancient Souls, and also helped us set up operations in India. She went on to become an Editor in Chief at Daastan, and train the next batch of fellows. Another graduate, Ms. Aroosa Mushtaq Malik, was video interviewed live on PTV World. Ms. Armin Bilquis, the youngest fellow of the batch, brought her poetry book to Qissa, and Daastan helped raise funds to bring “Melted Kaleidoscopes” to print. Order a copy here to support the author.