[Year in Review]
KhudKaar House was inaugurated on 6th February 2021 and the classes began on 1st March 2021. In this report, I am writing down my learnings and a review of happenings at the community center. This will serve as a guide to anyone who wants to start a similar initiative and a report for our donors and supporters who have helped us immensely in continuing our operations.
Before I write about what we did, let me explain why we did it. KhudKaar aims to alleviate poverty from Layyah, and we started off with the concept of a community center. We believe in the collective power of the community, and this is our driving force behind this initiative. Lack of resources and access to information are two biggest hinderances in breaking the centuries old curse of poverty. We aim to solve these two problems and thus took the initiative. At KhudKaar, we strive everyday to provide the best resources and information access to the community in Layyah and help them in their fight against poverty.
In this report, I will write about the initiatives we took this year and sum up our learnings including the mistakes we learnt from.
Resource at KhudKaar House:
The community center has several resources which are available for the community to use for free. These were built over the year through generous support of our donors. We have fundraised and spent almost 35 lacs in 2021 on our operational costs and for the purchase & upgradation of equipment.
Library: We have a huge collection of books in our library, and anyone can come to read & can borrow it.
Computers & Laptops: We have 5 computers and 4 laptops in our digital lab where students learn various digital skills
Camera: We have a Canon DSLR which is used by our students to record content and practice courses.
Professional Mic: A professional mic is placed in the recording room which is used to record voiceovers and podcasts.
Solar Panels & Coolers: 4 Solar Plates and 3 solar coolers were purchased recently to help during the load shedding and summer.
Stitching Machines: 12 simple machines, 1 jokey machine and 1 raita machine is another resource at the center. These are used by our students to learn stitching and embroidery.
Projector: We have a projector which is used for movie screening and documentaries.
Events at KhudKaar House:
Our Library hosted two book clubs this year. Young students from different colleges and universities of Layyah came together & talked about books. They chose one book for every meeting and everyone shared their learnings during the club meeting.
We plan to make this a monthly thing at our library in order to engage youth in a dialogue. A good book helps you understand the diversity that exists in this world and makes you more tolerant.
We hosted several sessions for kids where they come and express their creative sides. We also have a curriculum designed to teach the message of empathy and more such colouring activities combined with empathy lessons are planned for 2022.
Lit’Tech Layyah was one of our biggest events in 2021. We engaged 300+ individuals in our literary activities. It hosted 25+ local artists and promoted their work on national and international levels. You can read more about it at: www.khudkaar.com/littechlayyah
We did a screening of “We can be heroes” at our center on New Year Eve. Movie screenings are a way for us to gather the community and talk about difficult topics. Through this movie, we were able to tell the parents that the world is changing and now it is time for youth to lead it in their own way.
We ask the participants to fill a survey before and after watching the movie/documentary. This tells us how a certain movie helped in changing perspectives.
We hosted three guest lectures at our community center this year. Ehtesham Hassan guided our students about building a profile on Fiverr, Amna Ejaz helped them understand Instagram branding and product photography and Team Daastan conducted a workshop about building your own business.
Trainings & Results
Sharing a few updates from our stitching unit and digital literacy classes below. I have briefly added the mistakes we made and the goals for 2022.
Every woman is provided with a stipend of 2000 PKR who enrolls in stitching training. They are allowed to bring their kids with them. The kids spend their time in the library while their mothers learn how to stitch. We trained 20 women for stitching this year. 10 of them have graduated and have started stitching clothes at their home. They are earning a decent income through this.
We also launched three collections with over 37 designs and merchandise including masks, pouches, tote bags and grad stoles. These are available online for sale.
Mistakes: It is difficult for a small brand to compete with well established and high funded brands. We cannot provide employment to all the women through online sales and the model needs to be revamped.
Goals for 2022:
Encouraging women to start earning through stitching at their homes.
We are building a chain of small home boutiques across the district. We plan to provide our products to the women in the local community who will sell those forward in their neighbourhood. It will help them earn some revenue for themselves and also help us build the distribution chain.
We are also working on building our distribution network in several universities across Pakistan. We plan to keep our merchandise in university stores in order to generate income for women at the community center.
Our digital literacy program enrolled around 57 students. 53 of them graduated from basic computer literacy and successfully completed Microsoft Office.
Following is a list of courses taught and students enrolled in each of them:
Adobe Photoshop: 3
Adobe Premiere Pro: 9
Adobe Illustrator: 3
Coding languages: 12
Photography by Junejo 1
Storytelling by Moroo: 2
Virtual Assistant: 1
Whiteboard Animation: 2
2 of these students have started earning online and 2 have job offers from Layyah. Others are still working and improving their skills. 12 of our graduate students cleared the assessment test of the Institute of Emerging Careers (iec.org.pk) and received their own laptops. They are now learning web development and UI/UX from there.
Mistakes: It took time to understand that these students are not good at communicating in English. All of them cannot start right away on Fiverr due to this reason. Other than this, every student needs one-on-one guidance from a mentor in a relevant field or else it becomes difficult to do everything from video lectures.
Goals for 2022:
Following things are lined up for 2022:
We have recently hired an employee who will help us set up our profile as an agency on Fiverr & Upwork. She will be managing clients and outsourcing orders to our students.
We are also building a mentor network in all of the above fields and every student will be put in touch with a mentor after 6 months of course completion.
6 of our top-performing students will be called to Lahore on full scholarship. We will help them find a relevant internship for a 3 month period which will help them in gaining exposure to in-field work.
Some of our key milestones from this year are below:
1. Finalist in SC Women In Tech: We got selected in cohort 3 of SC Women in Tech program by Standard Chartered from above 300 applications. Moreover, we made it to top 12 finalists list.
2. Accountability Incubator: KhudKaar recently got selected in a year long incubation by Accountability Lab.
3. Student Participation in YLP: Our students participated in Youth Leaders Parliament organized by LUMUN at LUMS.
Team Building & Trainings
It is very crucial to have an on-ground team that looks after the day-to-day operations of KhudKaar. It took us almost a year to divide the roles and responsibilities according to the strength of every individual. We are not a corporate company with proper funds which can afford to hire highly skilled persons for the relevant jobs. We had to train all the available resources and it was very important that they sign up voluntarily and willingly. Once I knew that these are the people who can commit time and are willing to assist others in the community, I immediately started training them after the inauguration. I conducted a few workshops, in the beginning, to get them started and they learnt mostly through experiential learning. I supervised them for six months and they are working on their own now.
We currently have 5 full time and 2 part-time team members at the community center. These people are our backbone and are equally invested in the project. Some of them worked voluntarily at the very start but we are now compensating everyone who is giving some time to the center.
Miss Kishwar is our stitching trainer. She is a home tailor and offered her services for this initiative. We enrolled her in a few online courses where she learns new stitching techniques every day and imparts the knowledge to other students.
Miss Amber is our supervisor and inventory manager. She was a housewife previously and had no work experience. She was trained to keep a record of the day-to-day inventory of stitching items and manages admission & attendance records at the stitching unit.
Miss Asifa is our quality control and outsourcing person. She checks the sizes, stitching and then packs all the orders. She also manages the outsourcing of raw material and is our go to market person.
Miss Sania & Mr Haseeb supervise students of digital literacy and manage online orders & customer support. They manage all our social media accounts and guide students about the basics of computers. They manage all the courses and make sure that the students have access to them.
Miss Najma does the cleaning and dusting of the community center. She comes for one hour everyday and cleans the center before the students come.
Mr Noor manages our financial sheets. He maintains our sheets to include donors’ data and records all the costs. He is also responsible for handing over salaries to all the team members and directly reports to Miss Wardah every day.
In the next blog, I will write in detail about goals and milestones planned for 2022. I just wanted to thank all our donors and supporters in the end who helped us achieve all of the above things in 2021. It would not have been possible without your support. KhudKaar is my passion project and I am not drawing any salary for the time I give to it. I have been asked this question many times and thought to answer it through this blog. KhudKaar House is only 10 months old and we are still struggling in managing our expenses. I cannot put a burden on our resources for now and thus, I willingly give it all my free time & plan to work on this project till my last breathe.
For any questions, please email me at [email protected]
You can reach out at [email protected] if you want to donate to our cause.