Despite belonging to a remote part of the world, I never stopped dreaming of exploring the world and believing myself. I started working with a nonprofit organization Sarhad Rural Support Program in Pakistan, in January 2013. SRSP is the largest nonprofit organization of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, working from decades for community empowerment and economic and livelihood development. I got an opportunity to serve the marginalized people of my country in different rural parts, especially in the parts where rigid culture prevails. Later, I got an opportunity to work with Danish Refugee Council, working to promote durable solutions for the more than 1.6 million Afghan refugees living in Pakistan. After working for three years with the communities at the gross-root level, I realized that all of the work which I do is not enough to address the critical issues of the country. Pakistan just like other developing nations of the world is facing many challenges which are interrelated and complex in nature. Policy level reforms and strategies are needed to address these critical challenges. These problems include but not limited to; terrorism, corruption, poverty, high unemployment rates, rising inflation, protracted refugee crisis, energy crisis and natural calamities.
Having a passion and care to address the world’s most critical issues, I applied for Atlas Corps fellowship under the US State Department’s Emerging Global Leaders Initiative. After a very competitive selection process with only 2% acceptance rate, I was selected for a one-year professional fellowship program, to serve in Washington DC. Atlas Service Corps, Inc. (Atlas Corps), founded by Scott Beale in 2006, is an innovative approach to addressing the most pressing challenges of the world. It is an international network of nonprofit leaders and organizations that promote innovation, cooperation, and solutions to the challenges of 21st century. The mission of the organization is to address critical social issues by developing leaders, strengthening organizations, and promoting innovation through an overseas fellowship of skilled nonprofit professionals.
Under the fellowship, I have been provided an opportunity to serve at Empowered Women International, as a Monitoring and Evaluation Manager. Empowered Women International, founded by Marga Fripp in 2002 is a non-profit organization which is working for refugees, immigrants and low-income women in DC metro area with the aim to empower women, promote entrepreneurship and grow economies. Entrepreneurship Pathways for Women is an innovative approach of EWI, based on transforming creativity and passion into skill and a meaningful way of living. My present work gives me a broader dimension of different developmental focus areas including, women empowerment, refugee crisis, and economic development, promotion of small businesses, organizational development, promotion of transparency and accountability as well as the immense pleasure to be able to serve the marginalized communities. A journey of thousand miles starts with a single step and being in the U.S is my first step towards achieving my life long goals. I am very excited and honored to be part of these prestigious organizations and looking forward to utilizing the opportunity in the best possible way.
Article by Abida Naz, EWI’s Monitoring and Evaluation Fellow and Atlascorps Fellow
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