An interview with 2004-05 Fellow Ali Raza Khan (Pakistan)
How was the Sauvé experience for you?
It was the most incredible experience of my life. The opportunity, environment, recognition and support that the Sauvé Program provided was remarkable. Living in a dynamic environment enabled me to delve deep and focus solely on my vision. I was able to develop a new level of understanding of how to scale-up my work. The opportunity to interact with young fellows from other countries on a daily basis is something unforgettable. One of the best things about the Sauvé Program is the freedom that it offers in terms of choosing your future path. I can’t imagine any better place for a young changemaker. In short, it was an experience, I can never forget.
How has the Sauvé experience impacted your life?
The Jeanne Sauvé Foundation gave me the social proof I needed to expand my work. I believe when you are trusted by a credible organization like the Jeanne Sauvé Foundation, your market value automatically increases. Validation of my youth-led changemaking work from the Sauvé Foundation came at the right time. It opened doors for me in three significant areas:
- Partnership building
- Intellectual growth
- Recognition of my work
It broadened my social horizon and offered an opportunity for me to interact with a wide range of people and organizations that benefited me personally and professionally. The fellowship gave me the advantage I needed to take my idea to the next level. I think back on my fellowship as the turning point to my mission-driven career.
Tell us a bit about your journey after your Sauvé experience until today. What have you been up to?
It would not be wrong to say that the Sauvé Program illuminated my career path. Prior to joining the Sauvé Program, I was working at a few locations in Pakistan. I have since expanded my work tremendously. My organization has planted the seeds of youth-led changemaking in over 1200 educational and vocational institutions, integrated this concept into the curriculum of over 172 leading vocational and educational institutions of Pakistan; and is working with over 80 leading universities of the country to align their structures for youth-led changemaking through a variety of exciting and innovative projects.
My work is featured in more than 30 countries of the world. I have attracted and engaged over 25 local and international organizations to invest in the field of youth-led changemaking. I have pioneered a methodology to establish and restore trust with young people and help them get started as changemakers, with unheard success rate. We have won several international awards for our contributions in the field of youth-led changemaking. We are certified by Pakistan Center for Philanthropy as a ‘Best Practice Institution.’
What do you do now?
I am expanding my youth-led changemaking model domestically and internationally through strategic partnerships. I believe that building a scientific foundation of youth-led changemaking is imperative to advance this field. We need to make a collective effort to develop and advance a science of youth-led changemaking. By advancing the field of youth-led changemaking as a science, we will be able to continuously monitor and improve the effectiveness of our initiatives. The biggest challenge today is that there are very few people and organizations involved in an organized manner to advance the field. The potential of youth-led changemaking is not matched by professionals, programs and social settings.
My organization facilitates several thousand young people every year to begin their changemaking journey. We offer a comprehensive package to youth; from inspiration to experimentation; to training and risk-free funding, showcasing and practical support. We are breaking down the traditional, attitudinal, social, structural, legal and financial barriers to youth-led changemaking.
What are some projects you are working on now? Tell us about your book.
I am currently focusing on embedding the concept of youth-led changemaking in the vocational and educational institutions. I believe that the vocational and educational institutions are uniquely placed to advance the concept of youth-led changemaking. It is therefore important to recognize educational and vocational institutions as major and powerful actors in youth-led changemaking field building process. It would be highly unrealistic to imagine that youth-led changemaking will thrive in educational and vocational institutions without concerted and intentional efforts.
I am about to launch my first book on “Youth-led Changemaking” with my friend Thomas G. Jakel who came to see my work from Germany and ended up firmly dedicating himself to take my model of youth-led changemaking to communities and countries worldwide. http://www.yesfoundersfoundation.org/.
This book contains the secret of turning young people into changemakers after having been tested with 16000 young people from almost every walk of life. This book is about my 21 years of journey in the field of youth-led changemaking. It provides compelling evidence and insights about the ways to build a culture of youth-led changemaking. The idea has the potential to revolutionize the entire youth development field and educational practices. The book presents a practical collection of principles and instructions for unlocking the inherent changemaking potential in every youth. This book explains not only what Youth-led Changemaking means, but the proven approach we can each take to activate young people as changemakers. This book will change the way you perceive the young people.
What is youth-led changemaking about?
Youth-led changemaking refers to the inherent truth that all young people are capable of giving birth to new ideas and activities that can create social and economic value and change. Youth-led changemaking is a conscious effort of young people to discover their inherent changemaking potential by initiating an idea, activity or process that produces social and economic benefits. I firmly believe that the changemaking potential is latent in all young people. It is the paradigm of mistrust which veils it. When the paradigm of mistrust is shredded, the changemaking potential of young people surprises everyone. Youth-led changemaking is a process to move away from deficit thinking and victim mentality toward the discovery that I have everything I need to transform my life and the lives of others. I believe families, educational institutions, and communities must be engaged in creating, activating, and multiplying spaces for Youth-led Changemaking. If young people can become easy targets of radicalization, they are also capable of creating a strong force to reject radicalization. The best thing about the Youth-led Changemaking is that it harnesses the passion and risk-taking ability of young people for the greater good.
What do you hope for in the future?
The support structures for youth-led changemaking are underdeveloped and fragmented. There is no country in the world that cannot benefit from youth-led changemaking. We need a broader youth-led changemaking movement in the world. We need a movement that engages a wide range of actors, and initiates departments, ministries, and organizations to build the field of youth-led changemaking. Educational institutions can play a major role in advancing the field of youth-led changemaking.
I will continue to develop and implement structures that support youth-led changemaking locally and globally. My deepest desire is to establish a ‘Changemaking School’ in Pakistan. A school where every faculty member and student is required to drive a change and go beyond well established knowledge. In my changemaking school, students will not be assessed in the classrooms but they will be assessed in communities by their changemaking projects. In my changemaking school, compassion not competition will be the driving force in students’ success. My changemaking school intends to offer something which does not exist. I know one day I will be able to create such a school in reality. It’s the best way to live up to my passion and dream.