The Need for Tolerance
In our times, where tolerance and freedom of speech has become obsolete, a few hardworking individuals and organizations work hard to promote peace in society. Recently, a project titled Azm-e-Pakistan was taken up by an international company DAI. DAI (Development Alternatives Inc.) is working towards global economic and social prosperity.
The project Azm-e-Pakistan aims to increase understanding and encourage co-existence between communities that follow different faiths. This peace-building project branches out to all niches in the pursuit of ideas that can be utilized to promote brotherhood. As a propagator of social change, DAI understands the need for action on an official level and has thus started this campaign to achieve inter and intra-faith harmony.
Daastan takes Part in a Consultative Meeting
As part of a consultative meeting, Daastan was invited to Lahore to participate in a debate where the biggest industrial thinkers of Pakistan had gathered to talk about peace building solutions. The main aim of the meeting was to utilize the social media space by connecting influencers and experts to resources. These resources would then be utilized to create programs that promoted peace and harmony on grass root level and build a strong society.
Cyber laws were also discussed and their implications for peace were pondered upon. All participants gave their valued opinions. Daastan’s CEO, Ommer Amer deemed the whole experience to be one full of learning. Experts shared their experiences and case studies centered around promotion of tolerance and acceptance in communities.
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The Importance of Leadership
The best way to equip ourselves for future endeavors is training our youth so that they understand the importance of innovation and leadership. Team Daastan has always believed that opportunities for growth and exposure bring out the best in people. And we love being able to put in our part in shaping the future.
When our youth has a firm knowledge of the needs of their people and are equipped with talent and skills, they can find workable solutions to social problems. By doing so, they bring about change and betterment in society. Fortunately, in the last few years we have witnessed an increase in opportunities for learning—taking the shape of competitions, conferences and workshops. These youth empowerment ventures are doing some great work and creating social entrepreneurs out of promising individuals.
Markhor—a Youth Leadership Conference
At the forefront of this youth empowerment movement are organizations like Markhor hosted by Youth Impact. They enable individuals to learn and grow by putting them in the middle of real-life situations. Markhor is Pakistan’s “premium wilderness-based youth leadership conference” which combines various learning experiences to offer a wholesome and holistic experience.
At the 5-day conference, you spend your days learning about social entrepreneurship and then applying those teachings to solve real-life problems. Right there, at the spot! What better way to learn then to put your learnings into practice and internalize the experience? The conference aims towards self-exploration, social activism, instilling the Markhor spirit, creating sustainable change through social entrepreneurship and encouraging creative thinking.
Daastan’s Role in Training the Youth
In an adventure-packed wilderness experience at the beautiful Makra Peak, Shogran, Markhor provides its participants with a board of keynote speakers, successful social entrepreneurs, international CEO’s and philanthropists. These professionals share their experiences, recount their hardships and impart snippets of useful knowledge that will help the leaders of tomorrow succeed in their future ventures.
Daastan’s CEO, Syed Ommer Amer was invited as one of the speakers of the panel to talk about story telling. We all have a story to tell but most of the time, we do not articulate it well-enough. The words that form so beautifully in our mind, come out incoherent when we’re speaking in front of large groups of people. Add to that the usual time limit that is imposed to speak and the pressure builds exponentially!
Syed Ommer Amer, who is an award-winning social entrepreneur and an excellent public speaker, told participants how to master the art of telling your story. He has spoken at various national and international public forums and is a staunch supporter of youth activism and empowerment. Through Daastan, he has been able to provide opportunities for more than 5000 writers. He has helped writers get their word across borders, monetize their work and create a fan base for their future works.
For this event, Daastan collaborated with Youth Impact, which is a non-profit organization combining various forms of learning such as Outdoor Education and Society Programs to bring out the best in youngsters and shape them into purposeful leaders.
Want to know more about our adventures? Keep watching our Facebook space for updates on Markhor’s Youth Leadership Conference!
How Literati Took Birth
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 email@example.com
Books are better teachers than any school curriculum. They let us peek into lives– real and unreal—go to places we’ve never been, face situations we’ve never encountered and come out stronger and wiser. 5 years ago, Daastan took its first step towards realizing its goal of educating the masses through books. We wanted to make a book lover out of every individual whose life we touched and see a book in every hand. Today, Daastan has progressed with leaps and bounds and continues to expand its mission.
One such instance of furthering our vision was when we partnered with Books and Beyond in what turned out to be a highly successful series of book club events.
Daastan Chasing their Vision by Partnering with Books and Beyond
To develop interest and increase membership of Books and Beyond- a literary club from Hyderabad- Daastan decided to sponsor their second of many book club meets held at Khanabadosh Writers’ Café in Hyderabad. The book club discussed Manto, Dostoevsky, Existentialism and Socialism.
Daastan provided the attendees with literary souvenirs such as bookmarks and tote bags with phrases like “Books not bombs” and “Knowledge is power!”. The purpose of the freebies was to impart positive vibes to the members and encourage them to attend even more book clubs, thereby increasing their love for literature and reading. The gifts from Daastan were well-received and all in all, the book club was a smashing success.
About Books and Beyond
Taking birth in the soulful city of Hyderabad, Books and Beyond is a literary club that started in 2016. Its goal is to bring both amateur and seasoned readers together in a single space and break through reading barriers in Hyderabad. They are also expanding into bigger cities like Karachi. Run by a hardworking team of bibliophiles, Books and Beyond works to promote reading culture among students, revive the lost interest in reading, hold in-depth discussions between like-minded people and encourage writers to share their writings.
Under the leadership of Huda Bhurgri and Khushbakht Memon, this literary club has organized various successful events. The events include book club meetups, open mic sessions and digital discussion groups.
The Founder of Books and Beyond, Huda Bhurgri
Our very own #Oneof50, Ms. Huda Bhurgri is a power woman! She is the founder of Books and Beyond and a social enterprise Soormi, that works towards women empowerment. Her love for literature and a dream of equality drives her to hustle harder every day and amaze us with her achievements.
Ms. Huda, along with her friend, Ms. Khushbakht Memon, founded Books and Beyond in 2016 when both of them felt a void in Hyderabad’s literary space. They believed that Hyderabad was home to a number of book lovers but the diminishing reader body of Hyderabad left little room for them to openly talk about books with like-minded people. With a solution in mind, these ambitious ladies started holding book club meets in a safe and healthy environment and made a special space for Hyderabad’s literati. And thus, Books and Beyond was formed. Daastan is proud to have been a partner of such an innovative literary initiative. We love putting in our share in literary and social enterprises and increase book love all across Pakistan!
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The Foundation of Daastan
In the summer of 2015, Ommer Amer, a then-budding writer from Wah was searching for a publisher for his first novel, The Forbidden Story. However, at that time, quality Pakistani publishers were almost non-existent. Disappointed by the lack of a proper platform to launch and market his book, Ommer decided to do something about the matter. With the help of 2 friends, Hafsa Idrees and Tahniat Saba, Ommer Amer founded Daastan—a self-publishing platform that would give access to all Pakistani writers to get their written word out into the world. And thus, we began our “daastan”.
Team Daastan has a dream—to help writers monetize their work, earn from their talent and grow Pakistan’s literary space. At a time where a large number of people, especially the youth, is tech oriented, the best way to thrive was through the internet. Ommer and his team turned to Plan9 and the startup was incubated in one of its 2015 batches. After a six-month incubation period, it took off and soared to greater heights. We went through a roller coaster of experiences—some good, some bad and some absolutely mind-blowing! (Like when we bagged the 2nd prize on an international platform)
Operating under Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB), Plan9 is Pakistan’s first tech startup incubator that started in September 2012. A business incubator works as a catalyst between dedicated and enthusiastic groups with unique ideas and help them to start their businesses. It provides funds from interested investors and services including office space and training.
Plan9 is one of its kind; providing its selected candidates (picked twice every year from a pool of 15 groups) with training from its experienced board, working space with computers, internet access, and even electricity so that Pakistan’s power shortage does not become a hurdle for budding startups. It has launched 130+ tech startups in Pakistan, with a vision of each business making a mark on international levels. The startups by Plan9 are gross valued at $70 million and they have raised a gross investment of $2.5 million
PITB’s tech incubator is led by founder, Dr. Umar Saif who
is also Chairman, PITB alongside Nabeel A. Qadeer, Director Entrepreneurship
and Enterprise Development, PITB.
Daastan upon its Graduation from Plan9
Since it’s incubation, Daastan has surpassed the expectations of many. Shortly after its graduation from Plan9, Daastan arranged a massive caused based letter writing campaign. Students from different schools and UET Taxila wrote letters to the Army. At the Brand Launch of Daastan in Arfa Technology Park Mughees Anwar and Rutaba Yaqub spoke as guest speakers. By the end of 2015, we had organized a number of important literary events such as the Daastan Literary Fest.
2016 was a roller coaster year for Daastan! Filled with endless work despite night and day, we organized out first ever big scale competition, The Stories Untold Season 1. Luckily, we received an overwhelming response. Soon, Daastan launched Qissa—Pakistan’s first self-publishing digital platform, enabling writers from all over the world to publish their books with a few clicks! Qissa garnered appreciation from writers and businesses alike and revolutionized self-publishing as we know it. But that’s not all! Team Daastan kept breaking through barriers by launching its very own Literary Fellowship which would bring together literary activists from all over Pakistan.
Today, Daastan is the biggest self-publishing house in Pakistan. We are working towards the betterment of the country by increasing readership and bringing the works of previously unpublished authors to light. We have helped writers monetize their work, turned passions into careers. Our team has held worldwide competitions, launched businesses, made a space in the media and much more. From one person’s dream, we have transformed into an army of readers and writerswith an unshakable will to rejuvenate literature in Pakistan.
Become a part of our journey by Signing Up with Daastan. Live your dream today!
Libraries around the world are perhaps the most peaceful places. Entering a library is like entering a whole new universe. Silence, the enchanting smell of paper and readers all around make up an ideal place to relax your mind. Let me break this wall and tell you my own experience. I visit an old library right behind my college. Now imagine an old building in Lahore. Shameless moist walls, unable to hold the paint together, with huge wooden book shelves filled with books of all sizes. The long-necked fan is hanging low on top of your head while you sit on a worn out chair that creaks every time you take a deep breath. Yes, its sounds uncomfortable but it was paradise for many. The paradise we lost to CoronaVirus!
Libraries And Social Distancing
It is ironic how despite being surrounded by so many people, everyone is immensely occupied with themselves. Once in a while you see two people whispering over a book. At one end of a table, two old men discussing the fresh newspaper are hushed by the angry librarian. Some keep sliding down the aisle looking for a resource book. However mostly, (in my case always) people are drowned in the books under their noses. Point being, social distance is strictly practised in a library. But CoronaVirus is way more demanding!
Are We Completely Shifting To e-Books ?
As going out is not the safest thing anymore, how will libraries survive? In Pakistan, libraries were already far less populated even before the virus broke out. In this digital age where everything is shifting online, will libraries too evolve or completely die in the process? Are libraries even relevant today when every possible information is just a google search away?
Tell us how you envision a post-corona-library. How do you read and how often you used to visit a library. For Daastan, saying goodbye to the old Library won’t be an easy task. Sign Up with us and be a part of this struggle to save the reading culture!