"Born and brought up in a tribal family from far flung border district Kargil (Jammu and Kashmir) near Line of Control on India Pakistan border exposed me to experiences of living in a conflict, uncertainty, fear and socio-economic educational backwardness; hence, the realization of importance of sustainable peace and development at a very early age. These experiences during schooling in the border district ignited in me an urge to work for social change and peace. But due to lack of platform to act, it remain a distant dream for me to discover the volunteer inside and I believe this holds true for many in geographically isolated far-flung conflict areas. I could only see my dream to act for social change coming true when I got through the admission test of an University of national repute, Jawaharlal Nehru University for higher studies; and also getting an opportunity to move to a metropolitan city for the first time in 2005. This provided me the space to learn, connect and act for change.
After being a part of many national and international campaigns, forums and events, it was time to give back to my people and my land. I decided to move back home (Kargil) to work for people than taking up a good paid job in the national capital. I took the initiative to mobilise the youths of Ladakh region on a common platform to voice for the concerns of the people of Ladakh and to provide a platform for the young to volunteer for social change; promoting inter-cultural dialogue among youth for the cause of peace, development and growth. This initiative saw more than 1000 youths joining the online network called Zojila Watch Youth Volunteer Network (ZWYVN) and actively participated in taking online and offline actions. ZWYVN has also embarked as a campaign to develop a network of volunteers to voice for the long pending demand of the people of Kargil, Ladakh for all weather connectivity. For a long time Ladakhis, especially from Kargil, have been demanding round the year connectivity of this region through the construction of Zojila tunnel, that has barely received any attention from government and the media due to Ladakh’s geographical isolation and inaccessibility during winters.
Following this Zojila Watch volunteer network where volunteers started article writing action in local and national dailies, we launched a signature petition campaign calling for all weather road connectivity to Kargil-Ladakh; and received hundreds of concerned individuals to support the campaign. The youth volunteers met the Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways, Dr. C. P. Joshi and presented a copy of the petition signed by hundreds of youths from Jammu and Kashmir, urging the ministry to make swift moves in construction of all weather road. This action plus with efforts from different quarters of the society in the district saw speedy work on the tunnel demand and approval of the project followed by foundation stone laying of the tunnel. This is not to state that the tunnel dream came true corely because of my effort but it was a small random act and the best I could, depending on my abilities and capabilities towards the dream tunnel as a responsible youth of the society.
'If we really wanted to see the change around, it is important to bring the change in self first.' This was my lesson I have learned during My Journey!"
-Javed Naqi (Kargil, India)
July 23rd, 2013
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