Faheem Shad’s inspiring journey
It’s been several years now that Muhammad Fahim Shad has been involved with peace-building efforts in Lyari. He has done this as a journalist, filmmaker and social activist.
In 2012, Shad established a production house called Mehrdar Art and Production (MAP). In his documentaries, Shad mostly highlighted the positive stories of his area to counter the stereotypical image of Lyari. Shad says he felt it was important to bring out the unheard voices of his community, if for no other reason than to remind people of their core social values which were not violent, as was depicted by the mainstream media
Shad was born in Baghdadi, Lyari and knows the ground realities about his neighborhood, which has had a troubled past. “People have little awareness about the true nature of their issues. Those who do, are too afraid to speak up.”
But this problem is very much structural, he says. “As far as I know, there is, unfortunately, no institute of journalism in Lyari yet and the main university, the Benazir Bhutto Shaheed University, does not have a faculty of mass communication either. Because of this gap in the market, with too few reporters from Lyari itself, the area was presented in a distorted manner.”
To bridge this gap, in 2013, Shad started a school of filmmaking and photography where he arranged free classes for the youth of Lyari. Students from all over Lyari came in, which led to a new era of young, trained journalists. The Lyari Film and Photography School engaged almost 300 internees across the neighborhood under the supervision of local filmmakers and photographers by conducting classes and mentoring sessions. He later initiated a twelve-month project called HAALHAWAL in 2016, which was based on a community journalism program in collaboration with the Karachi Youth Initiative. In this project, participants got the opportunity to learn about photojournalism, news writing, photo editing and other post-production skills. “In 2017, I also started a HAALHAWAL web series. The web show was designed to highlight the mainstream media narrative about Lyari. After the successful operation, Lyari has turned back into a peaceful town and the youth played a vital role in making a positive and peaceful society, he said, adding, “No one can deny that during the years of violence, the mainstream media had continuously showed Lyari as a crime-infested area. The idea of our web series, then, was to counter the negative narrative of the media.”
Moreover, Muhammad Fahim is currently working with Azm-e-Naujawan (a youth initiative), which focuses on working towards building a network of youth who are committed to addressing civic issues through meaningful engagement at the grass-root level.
A message he had for the youth is to focus on developing their professional and interpersonal skills to bring positive change. Fahim Shad is Lyari’s great success story and an inspiration to countless young people from the area.
Faheem Shad seen filming for a documentary (top) and receiving an award after appearing as a guest speaker on Media Baithak (bottom).
Contributor: Sohaila Sarbazi