Catlin Gabel School, Catlin Speak
The approach to education and leadership in the U.S. compared to developing nations is drastically different. While this is due in large part to the advantage of living in a wealthy world country with countless schools, opportunities, and higher standards of living overall, in a strange way there may be in an advantage to lacking these benefits in terms of social activism and leadership worldwide.
How do the young social leaders in our own country compare to those internationally? With such advanced and sophisticated education in the U.S., how do some of the most influential social and peace activists in the world rise from developing countries to impact the global community as much as, or more, than anyone else?
Vineet Singal is a 22-year-old American graduate from Stanford University who created a low-cost text message based system for chronic disease management. His service’s clients are mostly hospitals and insurers, who purchase the program to offer to patients. The system connects these facilities, as well as medics directly, to patients who need frequent support.
In an informational video Singal explained: “Everyone has a cell phone. We want to utilize that phenomenon to reach out to underserved populations, giving them reminders to take their medications, make future appointments, or simply advice on leading a healthy lifestyle.”
Furthermore, he said he uses a part of his funds to subsidize new services, and support “under-resourced free clinics.”
His fairly technologically advanced system has influenced thousands of Americans with chronic diseases by providing efficient and simple communication.
In comparison, Khalida Brohi of Pakistan began a non-profit organization called the Sughar Empowerment Society at the age of seventeen after witnessing the honor killing of one of her closest friends. Death was the consequence Brohi’s friend faced for being suspected of having a relationship with a man other than husband by arranged marriage.
Since then, Brohi has dedicated her life to halting honor killings in Pakistan, which first motivated her to start a campaign called the “Wake Up Campaign Against Honor Killing.”
During her presentation at the World Affairs Council in Portland, Ore. this spring, she commented, “I started with poetry. I started writing about the girls that I heard were killed in the name of honor, and I went to events and starting reading these poems.”
But she realized the impact of her poems wasn’t enough, so Brohi and a few other Pakistani girls started the campaign. They created a basic website and Facebook page to extend their message outside the single Pakistan village, and after experiencing support from a larger international community, Brohi was motivated to continue her work on a larger scale.
Her nonprofit’s mission statement that “aims to provide socio-economic empowerment to tribal women by developing their skills and providing them with income generating and learning opportunities to enable them a leadership role in not only their households but in the society to eventually help lower the rate of violence against women and gender discrimination.”
Now integrated into 23 villages in rural Pakistan, the Sughar centers offer a six-month course to tribal women including basic courses like traditional embroidery skills, basic literacy classes, enterprise development, and more.
Brohi’s strong dedication and passion to end these horrific honor killings that still occur in Pakistan today has clearly motivated her to the level of success she has accomplished at age 22.
Her ability to accomplish such large social change is even more astounding given the disadvantages of growing up in a developing country. For example, Brohi had to travel to nearby Karachi, to attend school, since her rural village in the Balochistan part of Pakistan lacked one.
Furthermore, the cultural restraints in her Pakistani village, for instance the lack of support from men in her village, added additional obstacles.
At the World Affairs Council she said, “Three different men stopped their wives from coming to the centers.”
In some ways, the lack of opportunities in Brohi’s life may have been a reason for her great success. If she hadn’t recognized this issue in her community, the only option for the rest of her life would be to follow the traditional rules of her village community. By recognizing these actions were wrong, she found a way to create her own opportunity for success.
Khalida’s story contrasts drastically with the background of Singal, yet both young leaders have made substantial impacts in the social entrepreneur world.
While both figures have worked hard to accomplish the success they have today, the question still arises: What more could be done if young leaders like Khalida and others were exposed to the benefits and advantages in the U.S., such as higher education and advanced technology?
For more information on either of these young social entrepreneurs, visit their websites.
Khalida’s organization: http://www.sughar.org/