Organised by the Youth Coordinating Forum (YCF) in partnership with the Ismaili Tariqah and Religious Education Board, Aga Khan Education Services, Bangladesh and the Youth and Sports Committee of the Ismaili Council for Bangladesh, this three-day camp focused on themes such as leadership, diversity, volunteerism and the Ismaili Imamat.
More than 85% of the Ismaili youth in Bangladesh, between the ages of 13 to 18 years, participated in the camp. Counsellors were selected from the young adults (ages 19-26) in the Jamat to mentor the younger group. Professional speakers on various topics were invited from within Bangladesh as well as the larger South Asian region. Noman Nasrullah, management consultant from Pakistan, was invited as the lead camp coordinator. As a member of the Aga Khan Youth and Sports Board for Pakistan, he was able to share his experience of leading similar events in Pakistan and the Gulf Region at regional and international levels. Malikah Saleh, a primary teacher educator with the International Primary Teacher Educator Programme and IIS graduate Najma Motahar, were also key facilitators for the camp.
The camp was held at a serene venue about an hour's drive from Dhaka. The programme began with a high-energy workshop on team-building and understanding diversity. The first day included workshops on a variety of topics including a presentation on the Aga Khan Development Network and its mandate of realising the social conscience of Islam.
The second day's activities included further workshops and presentations on topics such as Leadership Skills in Today's World. The highlight on this day was a campfire performance that took place in the evening. During this activity, participants presented a collage of enlightening and entertaining performances on culture, heritage and social issues.
The final day of the camp was dedicated to the idea of Taking Personal Responsibilities. Based on this theme, and looking at the needs of both the Jamat and the country in which it lives, the participants unanimously agreed to get involved in various projects as volunteers. One workshop slogan that seemed to strike a chord with everyone was “Go MAD– Go Make A Difference!”
The three-day camp was rated very highly by the participants who acknowledged the excellent efforts of the organisers as well as the format of speakers and workshops. Fareed Huda, a camp counsellor was exuberant: “Noman amazed the participants with startling examples. He sowed the seed of hope and taught us to water it with achievements, with group work, with cooperation and with positive energy. He taught us about the different levels of passion – basic, expected, surprising, and unbelievable. Over the four days, I saw lives change, I saw people helping people, I saw hope and I saw people's potential.”
Since a large number of the South Asian Ismaili population is comprised of individuals who are 25 years and under, this camp was particularly relevant in demonstrating the responsibility of youth today. Marmarin Virani, a camp participant for whom this startling demographic hit home, noted “This camp made us aware of our potential and how to use this potential to make a difference in the world today because we are not the leaders of tomorrow, but the leaders of today.”