Today, we speak with Scholar, Afsheen Fatima (Cohort 11, Pakistan), who joins Atlas Corps as part of the Atlas Corps: Pakistan Emerging Leaders Initiative. This special initiative is a dynamic collaboration between Atlas Corps and two Atlas Corps Alumni-led organizations: Accountability Lab Pakistan and CaterpillHERs, with the goal of building community across emerging professionals in Pakistan by building the capacity of local leaders and community-based initiatives.
Afsheen is a lecturer at Iqra University and is interested in media and politics, identity politics, minority rights, gender issues, and sustainable development.
Name: Afsheen Fatima
Home Country: Pakistan
Current Organization: IQRA University
Role at current organization: Lecturer
Social Issues: Zero hunger
What inspires you the most as a leader?
The ability to see an opportunity in any adversity to make a positive change no matter how small it is.
Please tell us a little bit about the type of work that you do at your organization and the impact it has made in your local community.
Gingi Shrooms is a project aimed at creating awareness of indoor farming, especially mushrooms among Pakistani youth to eradicate food insecurity. I have taken the university on board where I am currently working as a Lecturer to host awareness sessions and workshops for the students with the field experts. In these workshops, students will be given training by experts on how to start, grow, and maintain indoor farms. The scope of success of this project cannot be determined as it has not yet been implemented due to the early stage of the project. However, the anticipation of the success of this project is high because we are having a great response from students and the university management alike. This program’s success will have a multiplying effect in making our next generation self-sustaining and able to make the most of what they have.
Why is it important for you to work towards zero hunger?
It is of paramount importance to solve the food security problem of Pakistan as it has already started causing issues on multiple fronts. A growing number of children are suffering from malnutrition and stunted growth which is detrimental to the future of our country. Moreover, this is also causing a rise in crimes as more and more people are resorting to crimes in order to gain access to food items. Disenchanted youth can get lured by extremist outfits promising better futures and basic food items. We are already witnessing the consequences of rampant food insecurity and if it doesn’t receive immediate attention then it could lead to the severity of the aforementioned issues.
What has been your favorite part about the Virtual Leadership Institute so far?
The inspiring and motivating speaker sessions on different topics related to leadership skills have been my favorite.
What is your best quick tip that you can share with us about how to succeed in the Virtual Leadership Institute?
My quick tip is to stay focused and consistent in order to complete the program successfully. At some point, you might start losing interest due to any reason but if you are focused on your goal you will stay consistent in your learning journey.
What is your Leadership Project about and what impact will it have on the community you serve?
My leadership project is about food security. It aims to equip people with the tools needed to self-sustain in the form of indoor farming. I have planned to start awareness programs and training workshops specially designed for youth to learn and carry forward the information and skills needed to grow mushrooms and other small vegetables. If successful, this project will have a long-lasting impact making people independent of outside raw food sources. Moreover, this will also decrease the crime rate as food insecurity drives people to commit crimes and causes social instability.
What are your plans after the Virtual Leadership Institute and how will this experience help you achieve these plans?
My plan is to make this project a permanent feature of my university’s extra-curricular programs. I also intend to expand this program to other universities and social welfare organizations. My experience with the Virtual Leadership Institute has enabled me to learn the needed skills and explore my options to better collaborate with other like-minded individuals. This VLI program has given me enough confidence to pursue my dream of bringing significant change bit by bit in an orderly manner.
What message would you like to send to individuals (Volunteer, Donors, Board of Directors) who support Atlas Corps?
I want to extend my heartfelt thanks to everyone involved with the Atlas Corps team. This program has given me an edge over others by giving me the knowledge and skill set needed to survive and make a positive change in the society I live in. It has given me life-long friends and memories to cherish forever.
Thank you, Afsheen, for sharing your leadership journey with us. We are excited to see you continue to inspire positive change in the future!
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Photos from Afsheen’s personal archive.