Abdul Wahid Khan: Persevering activist creating environmental consciousness
Abdul Wahid Khan, 22, Pakistan
I come from a very small village of Yarkhoon, high up in the Hindu Kush Mountains of Chitral, Pakistan. I am very lucky to be one of the very few people who have made it to university level in my area and I am currently a senior in Habib University Karachi doing BSC in Social Development and Policy program with a major in Ecological Justice and Social Movement. I was the president of Habib University Student Council and a teacher assistant of SDP program at Habib University. I have been a youth ambassador of Pakistan to USA through Youth Exchange and Study Program (YES).
I am the founder and head of Chitral Heritage and Environmental Protection Society (CHEPS) Youth Wing. CHEPS has been working for more than ten years with the cause of preserving the culture, heritage and environment of Chitral in specific and Pakistan in general. I formed the youth wing in order to involve the energetic youth for the cause of creating environmental consciousness among each other in the Anthropocene era we are living in today. We have organized hundreds of event around the world in the form of plantation projects, massive country wide cleanliness drives in all major cities of Pakistan, cultural shows and visiting schools in order to promote environmental education. It is unfortunate that our curriculum does not focus on the environmental and heritage protection enough and we have taken the responsibility to do so as a strong civil society.
I am currently developing an environment protection short curriculum that CHEPS Youth Wing members will teach on a volunteer basis in different schools throughout Pakistan. I have loved my journey in CHEPS so far and I have involved hundreds of youth in resistance and advocacy for the environment. I am a social development student and my goal is to evaluate and critically analyze the developmental projects that are to come in the rural area of Chitral specially with the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). We do not want our area to be seen and used as development object without considering the environment and cultural aspects of Chitral and I want to create awareness about sustainable and ecology friendly development in the area.
I am also the co-founder of an online and physical community library called Affinity library. We aim to promote reading habit in Pakistan and through book exchange and other interactive sessions, we try to build a strong community. We know that technology has blessed us with so many good things but it has created a huge gap between people and there are hardly meaningful dialogues that happen face to face as we are all indulged in our gadgets. We, at Affinity Library, try to eliminate such gaps and try to bring youth together in order to communicate about books, cultures, world problems , local problems and find solutions together. We also try to provide free books to underprivileged children so that they can continue their education.
Finally, I am very interested in traveling and adventure and I want to facilitate people who want to explore the world. For this purpose, I along with two other friends have a startup called Saath Chal Come Along, which is a travel club that promotes tourism in Pakistan through cultural exchange. We encourage locals to host our customers and we treat them as guests and they learn a lot about the area they visit . This is in very initial stage, but we would like this initiative to create a lot of job opportunities for youth and local women especially who can cook and serve the local taste to our guests. I want the world to know about the hospitality and beautiful culture of people in Pakistan through this initiative which the media never shows.
I am very excited to participate in this opportunity as a youth representative of the struggles that we are facing as a global village. This opportunity of Youth Assembly will help me network with youth around the world who are working on SDGs through different startups and NGOs. I am much looking forward to learn from the speakers and follow delegates to see how we can deal with issues like climate change and make an inclusive society where we do not exclude the environment and the nature and education for all.