What is it?
UMEED was a community development initiative that began in the city of Mirpur in the Azad Kashmir region of Pakistan in 2012. It supplied resources to a network of partner organisations and NGOs, complementing its own activities, which included a youth centre providing skill-exchange workshops and activities aimed solely at women. There were weekly workshops in its youth centre geared to personal development, skills development and raising awareness of extremist activity aimed at both men and women.
Who is it for?
The UMEED’s initiative’s projects were primarily geared towards young people from local Pakistani communities in addition to groups identified to be in need of the project’s help. There were specific days for women, drawing about 40 attendees each time, when they had the opportunity to gain and develop such skills as sewing, art, design and sign language. As a result 15% of the women started their own small businesses and 20% secured employment opportunities which had a positive influence in the community.
As a resource for NGOs and other partners UMEED supported these organisations in projects that helped communities become more successful. The Youth Centre provided a safe space for young people to learn new skills, which encouraged them to volunteer for local projects, leading to far better cohesion within the community. UMEED also worked tirelessly to build better relations with local partners such as Kashmir International Relief Fund (KIRF), Kashmir Institute of Special Education (KISE), AKAB School for the Blind and Kashmir Orphans Relief Trust (KORT). Collaborative projects such as 100 Smiles For Kashmir have been possible, which saw hundreds of kids receive life changing cleft lip surgery.
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“UMEED has helped bring the community together to educate and mobilise the youth to actively work to support one another. I worked for the Kashmir Institute for the severely hearing impaired and I was please to see volunteers from UMEED come to help our school regularly. It is from here I became interested in volunteering at the weekend to teach sign language. UMEED has mobilised young people to play a role in their communities and support facilities such as KISE to give back to the community.” Nargis Iqbal