Islamabad Leo Club steers youth away from drugs, violence

Javed Mahmood

Members of the Islamabad Galaxy Leo Club are shown in August as they promote tree planting in the city. The club creates awareness of education and literacy in Pakistan. [Javed Mahmood]

Members of the Islamabad Galaxy Leo Club are shown in August as they promote tree planting in the city. The club creates awareness of education and literacy in Pakistan. [Javed Mahmood]

ISLAMABAD -- The Islamabad Galaxy Leo Club, a group of community service volunteers, is empowering youth of the Islamabad-Rawalpindi metropolitan area to be active and peaceful members of society, club organisers say.

Kinza Mumtaz Abbasi, a political science student at Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, formed the club a few years ago to create awareness among youth of the hazards of drug addiction and smuggling.

Now the club, which is affiliated with the Lions Club International, has 20 members and has expanded its scope.

"I am expanding my club's team to 30 soon to increase our contribution in social welfare work like planting trees, spending a day with orphans ... and participating in different awareness campaigns that discourage drug use and promote tolerance in society, as well as education and health," Kinza told Pakistan Forward.

Kinza is also youth ambassador of Pakistan's Anti Narcotics Force (ANF), a member of the National Youth Assembly and a leader of the Women's Charter, a club at her university.

"I want to contribute whatever I can to my people, my country, and my [country's] youth, especially for my own satisfaction, so that I can face myself without any regret ... by saying I have done the impossible," she said.

"We feel pleasure and self-satisfaction when we participate in social welfare projects," Osama Imtiaz, a member of the club, told Pakistan Forward.

"We will make our best efforts to reach out to needy people and to work for the social and economic development of Pakistan," Junaid Ahmed, another Leo Club member, said.

Anti-drug campaigns

Club members hold conferences and seminars at various educational institutions and other places to highlight the importance of social welfare and of the well-being of the needy, particularly of children, Kinza said.

"One of the ambitions of the Islamabad Galaxy Leo Club is to eliminate the curse of drug addiction from society," she said.

"The members are also motivating youngsters, especially students, to participate in healthy activities and to refrain from violence and intolerance and to play their role in building a strong society," she said.

In 2015, the ANF seized and destroyed various narcotics worth US $2.9 billion (Rs. 304 billion), while in the first ten months of 2016, the ANF recovered US $1.9 billion (Rs. 199.2 billion) worth of drugs that are set to be destroyed this month, Kinza said.

The ANF actions against drug smugglers and public awareness programmes have helped discourage the use of drugs in society, she said.

Engaging youth for social welfare

Other charities in Pakistan are also recognising the importance of involving and of engaging youth in their work.

"Pakistan is a developing country, and the involvement of youth and students in raising awareness of important social issues, social welfare works and well-being of the neglected people is essential," said Abdul Sattar Edhi Muhammad Saad, grandson of the late Maulana Abdul Sattar Edhi, who founded the Edhi Foundation in Pakistan.

"We are going to involve youth and students in our upcoming social welfare projects," he told Pakistan Forward from Karachi.

"After the completion of two on-going projects in the next few months, we will start engaging students and youngsters to expand the orbit of social welfare and the service of humanity in Pakistan," said Saad, who also works with his grandfather's foundation.

Edhi is Pakistan's largest charity.

"Social welfare is inevitable for overall national development in Pakistan, and every person with resources at his or her disposal must contribute towards the well-being of deserving people," said Rozina Jalal of Karachi, chairperson of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) committee on social security and labour issues.

"Millions of people in our country are living below the poverty line -- a pitiful way of living -- and all the resourceful people in Pakistan must play their role in making life easier for the neglected segments of society," she told Pakistan Forward.

"From the platform of the FPCCI, we are urging government officials, industrialists, donors and labour unions to join hands to minimise poverty and to provide education, health and other facilities to the needy," she said.

"Social welfare is emerging as a major challenge for the government, private sector and society, and we all should struggle to help out millions of resource-poor people in the country who are leading a miserable life," Rozina said.

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