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De-weaponisation Workshop


Newspapers/Name tags/Video files/Printed article. 


Facilitator greets students, cheerily, ensures all students have name tags, asks if everyone read todays papers. Ask students to get into circles or semi circles, if the chairs are not already in this format.


“We are going to play a game called 

I wish my city was ….. so I could….”

Facilitator must model the activity by saying:

I wish my city was safe so I could walk in the streets of Karachi with my mother and sisters.

Ask someone to try their line. Give them all time to think …be prepared with alternative, positive statements if you are met with silence.


“I wish my city was clean and safe so I could be proud of it, and show it off to tourists and make money as a tour guide.”

Say, “You try!” … (and give them time and space to try, going clockwise in a circle until everyone has tried to imagine a safer and happier city or community and what they could do in it)

Keep going until you have a good response from the class.

Jot down key words on the board.


What are the markers/ indicators/ signs of a healthy, happy society?

Wait for a few answers. 

Then ask:  

What are the markers/ indicators/ signs of a disturbed and angry society?

Wait for a few answers. 

Divide the students into two groups and get them to discuss words that describe a happy healthy society and then a disturbed, angry society…. Each group should generate six adjectives for each category.

Then ask the students come together again and share their ideas, ask each one to speak up while you jot down the ideas in two different columns. 

Happy city normally has these markers:

Happy, content or hopeful citizens

People/ citizen who also have faith in government 

Hope for the future, reasonable expectations that they can provide for their loved ones.

Enough water, electricity, schools and access to medical care, often free amenities like medical care and education. 

Bring photo essays or show two video clips or articles of happy city, like Toronto in Canada, or Paru in Bhutan and angry, chaotic cities like Lagos, Nigeria or Baghdad, Iraq. Happy city should show content citizens. Angry city should showcase trauma chaos in any form, hunger, riots or violence. Be prepared to describe two different cities without saying what they are.

Then ask what about Karachi … or your own town or village? Let us not label it happy or angry yet. 

Let us see what markers of a city’s state Karachi matches. 

What about Lahore? Quetta? Peshawar? Anyone know Rawlakot in Kashmir?  

Facilitator must know statistics for each city, or area or community they are discussing, this is fairly easy for example, contact the ORANGI PROJECT for stats on Orangi how many students enrolled in schools, whether the people have piped water, electricity etc.

Now ask:

Let us turn to where you live.

What is the name of your city/neighbourhood/ village?

What makes you happy about there you live? What makes you smile? Maybe it’s the sunshine, or the sunset, which you can see from your roof, or maybe the evening breeze, cool as it swirls into the courtyard as you make tea and share jokes with your family, maybe it’s the kids with kites? 

Take four examples or more if the students are keen to share.

Then ask:

What worries you about your community or your city? What are the issues?

Write down points as the participants share.

Then say: Thank you for sharing your ideas. Among these issues which are the most serious ones, the most life threatening ones? The worrying ones? Lack of medical treatment? Garbage removal? Fear of guns? 

Garbage and the lack of education, or increasing enrolment of youth in school? 

Mental health issues, depressions, treating the mentally ill with dignity, supporting the handicapped?

In Rawlakot, Kashmir, students wanted to discuss weapons and border conflicts. In North Pakistan on a DIL program several groups of students pointed out that levels of anger and frustration in our society are rising, and blamed resentments between tribes for riots, murders and widespread violence. In Khairpur, Sindh, students wanted to warn peers about the dangers of allowing little incidents like an accidental death from ariel firing to celebrate weddings escalating into family feuds. 

A facilitator must come prepared for this sort of turn in the discussions. Our job is to create a safe space for discussion where students can move towards positive solutions. We must not be dismissive in our handling of students' ideas.

Where would you steer the students? Ask them to research, using their IT and Library classes, how other communities or activist movements have dealt with similar issues. Look at tools for Teaching tolerance/ Teaching communities to trust each other/ Conflict Resolution/ To investigate reasons for resentments and perhaps engage in problem solving/ look at what groups like CAW (Citizens against Weapons) or SHEHRI are doing to build peaceful societies.

We have four films that can deal with these issues:

Resolving Feudal Violence

Beaten and Brain damaged

Killing Fields of Karachi

War Children of Kashmir

Note to facilitator: if students want to discuss the violence in the streets, then please allow them to do so, ask them not refrain from discussing any political parties, rather steer the discussion towards solutions and peace building, the de-weaponisation movement, and how to control crime/lawlessness/domestic violence/gang violence. We must then discuss the level of anger, frustration and intolerance in our communities, cities and the national sentiment. This is a separate workshop, but you must come prepared to go in this direction if the students sound like they want to discuss it. This is a safe space for the participants to express their views, and if you steer away from a subject, you will inadvertently amplify a sense of paranoia and fear among the students, and rob them of the only opportunity they will have to decode this issue without being judged. If you are not confident leading this, report the discussion to the Gateway manager and let us reach out to peace builders like Naeem Sadiq or Noman Quadri who are non partisan and agenda-free, and who participate in several peacebuilding initiatives across the city to speak to our students. Make it clear that we need to have a positive, problem solving oriented discussion, and that this is not a space to assign blame or complain about any particular group or individual, and that no religious or political sect or party will be discussed. 

Then proceed to use a peace building workshop and show the film that Orangi students made called Killing fields of Karachi.

If they are passionate about addressing garbage or the environment, come prepared to show them films like “Challenging the System” which shows young students challenging their local government to pick up the garbage from their neighbourhood and then “Change makers,” which shows young activists highlight hygiene, sewage and garbage disposal issues in their community.

Discuss the issues and characters in the film using the same method as you used in session one.

Break students into groups and ask them to come up with action points for a strategy plan for change in their own community. Use the problem-solving model outlined by trainer Shifa Naeem:


Get the students to call out the issues they have identified.  Write these issues clearly on a board. Then get the students to prioritise the issues. Then ask the students to consider realistic solutions. 


Now show the two films you have chosen.

If choosing Beaten and Brain damaged:

Who is Saleha?

What happened to her?

How did the team feel when they first found her?

What do you think they did to cope with the sadness and anger they felt at observing her chained to a bed?

What was the cause of Saleha’s condition?

What happened to Saleha’s father told her watching television was a sin? 

How did he feel when she didn’t listen? 

How did he react? 

Does everyone agree? (Facilitators must create a safe space for students to express by making it clear that we don’t have to agree) I would love to hear differences of opinion, are there other ideas? It is ok for there to be many competing ideas and priorities. 

A leader needs to learn to think quickly when faced with a problem, analyse it, look at stake holders and decide on a safe, reasonable path to solving that problem whether it is which job to choose, which scholarship to apply for, how to convince your parents to let your sisters study before they have to be married, or how to delay your own marriage to a later date, how to stand up for street children who are being abused by powerful, cruel people or figure out how to get the municipal government to dispose of waste in your area. 

 Life skills is about learning to make choices about life decisions. You must perfect the art of problem solving because it will help you feel calm and in control of your life. You will find that stress and emotions have less of an effect on you, because you have the tools to cope with these natural forces that life emits.

By the end of these life skills program sessions, you will all be leaders, able to think critically about life choices and make those decisions with confidence.

Was his reaction proportional to what she did (her disobiedience)?

What do we mean by proportional reaction?

What can we do to control our anger?

Why is Saleha chained to her bed? What is her family hoping to achieve?

Have you ever seen anyone in your household or your community angry? What do they do when they are angry? 

In the film what was the result of Saleha’s father’s inability to control his anger? 

Divide the students into three teams to role play team discussion. Examine how a Mental Health Awareness team would go through problem solving steps, what stake holders they considered, and how they looked at the limited resources they had, particularly time, energy and finances as they confronted the problem.

Create role plays, give students roles of different members of the team that found Saleha chained to a bed in a village in Matiari, and have them perform what they feel the team discussed and how they convinced the family to let them spend time with Saleha and how they got the family to allow Saleha out of her chains.

If choosing Killing fields of Karachi and War Children of Kashmir or Change Makers and Challenging the System ask:

In the films who are the gatekeepers and stake holders that the students had to make a list of in order to begin their community action program.

What topics did they choose? Why?

Do you see similarities between the films and your own life situations or situation of others in your city?

Who did you find interesting or inspiring in this video? Why?

What are their ideas for change?

Why did the students speak up?

What can you do to improve your own community?

What did the students do? 

Can you describe and list the steps the students took in each film?

For Change makers and Challenging the system, begin a discussion on stakeholders.

Do you know what stake holders are? A stake is an interest. A stake holder is someone who has an interest, and some level of control, in something that you are trying to change or achieve:

For example, if you are applying for a job you let us examine the stake holders: 

Your parents because they will give you permission to leave the house and pursue the job.

Your teachers because you will need letters of recommendation.

Your employer because she or he has the power to give or deny the job to you.

Think, who else…

Maybe you have a friend or an acquaintance inside the firm who went to DIL or knows someone at DIL, they can tell you what to expect in the interview or give you info when the next opportunity comes up.  Maybe this is your adult ally? Like your teachers, they could be your supporters.

What is a gate keeper:  someone who gives or denies you access to an opportunity.

Leave time for a reflection session: Ask what did you learn today? What can you apply in your everyday life? What do you want to do next? How can we help you? 

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