Posted by Charlotte Fraser on
Image credit: Dania Ali/Stars Foundation/Aware Girls
Badar* stopped a 15-year-old boy from carrying out a suicide attack after attending training run by our local partner in Pakistan. It saved the boy’s life, and countless others.
“My name is Badar* and I live in a northwestern province of Pakistan.
I was born and raised in a very religious and conservative family.
Growing up I felt bored and, at times, suffocated. There were no activities for youth. When I was admitted to university in Peshawar, I felt very happy.
I could hang out with friends until late, listen to music and go to restaurants. I didn’t want to go back home to my village, even at the weekends.
At this time, one of my friends recommended some training to me run by Aware Girls [Peace Direct’s local partner in Pakistan]. I went I saw a young woman with short hair talking about peace and religion. I felt resentment and wanted to quit the training.
My friend persuaded me to stay for a few more sessions.
Gradually, I got involved in the discussions and spent the whole day at the session. I went the following days and kept thinking about the issues discussed, even after the session ended.
Slowly, I began questioning my beliefs about gender, religion and politics. I was transformed from an intolerant and slightly aggressive young man into a non-violent peace activist.
I felt more committed to my community and decided to play a role in the peace and progress of it. I joined several other forums and networks working for social change and peace.
One day my uncle rang and told me about a 15-year-old boy in our village who had joined a local militant organisation. I left for my village the very next day and went straight to the house of that boy.
He had been radicalised. He was preparing to carry out a suicide attack in Afghanistan.
He was preparing to carry out a suicide attack in Afghanistan.
When he came to say goodbye to his parents, they locked him in a room and informed the elders in our community, asking them for help. I had to do something.
The first day the boy refused to meet me. But the second day I was able to get him to listen.
I spoke with him for several hours. The skills and knowledge I had learned during Aware Girls’ training sessions helped me a lot.
I continued to meet the boy for several days. After two months, the boy had totally abandoned the idea of becoming a suicide bomber and wanted to live a happy, non-radical life.
He learned skills to repair cars and found a job in a workshop. He has also resumed his studies and is planning to sit secondary school exams soon.
He wanted to live a happy, non-radical life.
My peace journey continues and now I work with vulnerable street children, striving to help them become peaceful, productive citizens.”
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*All names changed to protect identities. Pictures representative.
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