A ‘New Dawn’ for Volleyball in Pakistan

By Hazeen Latif

When it comes to community empowerment, service providers often look at what resources and strengths THEY have and what THEY can do to meet community needs.  But it is too easy to overlook what the community already has, to meet its own needs, even among poor and marginalised communities.  As a core value of HCR, whenever we work with communities we always begin by listening to them and helping them to listen to each other, exploring what assets and strengths they already have, before we begin to explore what things need to be improved (see blog “It’s a ting thing”).

In our work among village communities in Pakistan’s KPK province, for example, it would have been far too easy to focus on the desperation felt by many young people, which has often resulted in frustration, substance abuse and even gang violence.  But as we began our listening activities, we heard stories of youngsters who really wanted to do something meaningful with their lives, but didn’t know how.  We also  found tremendous energy, talent and enthusiasm for sports as well as plenty of open ground to organize sporting activities such as cricket competitions.  

With HCR’s help, the young people recently came together to register a community-based organization calling themselves, “New Dawn Community Services Group” and one of their first activities has been to set up a volleyball court on some unused open ground. 

A “New Dawn” for volleyball in a village in KPK Province, Pakistan

A “New Dawn” for volleyball in a village in KPK Province, Pakistan

“New Dawn” Volleyball has now become an important feature of village life for both young and old alike as some gather to play and others to watch.  As one father told his son as he came in starving, after a long game of volleyball: “It is a miracle that you are home early today”. 

Among other community support activities, one of New Dawn’s next goals is to bring neighbouring communities together to play a cricket tournament, something we first tried successfully in 2015. 

Besides taking young people off the streets and giving them healthy activity to do, sport really does bring people together, but best of all, it’s completely run by the community and for the community. And it all started with a simple act of listening!

To be heard...

By Annie Sarfraz

Over 40 people participated at a community meeting in the village of Swabi, KPK, Pakistan, organised by HCR in January 2017. The purpose was to help community understand they have the capacity to bring about positive change in their community. Most of the members said they had never attended a meeting where everyone was given an opportunity to introduce themselves. It was important for HCR to ensure participation from all groups of the community. In particular, youth are generally not encourage to be part of any decision making, something that is traditionally left up to the community Elders. However, this was the first time all age groups had come together to discuss community issues, and for many the first time they were heard.

A senior spokesperson from the community endorsed what was said by HCR's Hazeen Latif, "we have to unite and become an agent of change rather than an object to change". At the conclusion of the meeting, Hazeen was thanked by all, "we have never talked in front of so many people, thank you for giving us the opportunity"!

The Yalgoo Emu Cup

By Celeste Larkins

We have just arrived back from attending our second Yalgoo Emu Cup. Last year the sun was shining, so much so that one of the Radio MAMA staff members got heatstroke. There was definitely no heat stroke this year! We arrived to rains and a freezing cold wind, but that didn’t stop the community from having fun. Children were playing in the paddle pools (I shiver just thinking about it), jumping on bouncy castles, making their emu costumes and getting involved in the organised games. One community member said “The rain is good, it brings us all closer together, not just in terms of distance”.

When the storm hit, the whole community was huddled together underneath cover, except for some children who embraced the rain. Dane and I helped Radio MAMA do a live broadcast from the Emu Cup. We chatted on-air with lots of children, a well-known Indigenous hip hop artist, Bryte MC, as well as lots of community members including a gentleman who came to Australia from Chile as a political refugee 30 years ago! Even though the fireworks had to be cancelled, it was still a great event. Dane and I love how we are able to involve community people to be part of radio.

Barry from Radio MAMA, and Celeste broadcasting at the Yalgoo Emu Cup.

Barry from Radio MAMA, and Celeste broadcasting at the Yalgoo Emu Cup.


The highlight of the day was the stunning headline act, The Merindas, an Indigenous R&B soul group who sing a lot of motown hits, but have also just released an original song. They make their own costumes and are genuine down to earth people. Even though they were exhausted from a whole week of work-shopping with children from Geraldton and Yalgoo, they agreed to meet me on Sunday morning at 8am, so I could interview them about how they got to where they are today. The recorded interviews will be broadcast on the show I host on Radio MAMA, On the Road, which uses music and yarning to connect the Mid West and Gascoyne. If you ever want to tune in you can by selecting ‘Listen Live Geraldton’ at The show is on each Monday at 11am.

Celeste with the very beautiful and talented Merindas!

Celeste with the very beautiful and talented Merindas!

* Yalgoo is a town in the Murchison region, 499 kilometres north-north-east of Perth, Western Australia. 

It’s National Youth Week, so why should we celebrate the youth of this nation?

By Celeste Larkins

The youth of Australia are important to society and its functioning. They are our next generation of tradespeople, teachers, doctors and lawyers, so they need our support. The years of youth can be a time of struggle, dealing with family issues or friends, as well as pressures to ‘fit in’ at weekend booze parties. Then there are schooling pressures and the looming question of ‘What will I do with my life?’. Most of us probably remember this awkward stage in our lives.

If we believe the portrayal of the news headlines youth are all drug-taking, alcohol-abusing, party-crashing, stealing, abusive and disrespectful. Really?

Last week, I was with a group of female teenagers who are disengaged from school. They are part of a program that tries to motivate students to learn in ways that are more relevant to their situation.

The youth coordinator from the Geraldton Regional Aboriginal Medical Service (GRAMS) asked me to help the girls develop radio messages promoting the GRAMS youth day, a fun day for youth to access services appropriate to their needs.

Initially, we had concerns that the teenagers wouldn’t be interested in designing radio messages, especially as it was the last week of school and we had limited time. But the teenagers couldn’t contain themselves with excitement. Some were shy but everyone made sure that all were involved in the message development process. It was lovely to see these young people looking out for one another.

As we went around helping each group, they shared with us their ideas and took on board any suggestions we made. After recording, they all were proud of themselves, especially those who were shy and struggled initially, and eager to hear the messages broadcast. Afterwards, their teacher told us that she was amazed at what the girls did in the hour and how engaged they were in the activity.

These young people were polite and respectful, eager to be involved in developing messages promoting the GRAMS youth day to their peers. We hope we get a chance to do more of these workshops with the teenagers.

If ever you wonder what is to become of the next generation, remember those who are trying to help themselves and their peers develop into compassionate people. Celebrate our youth. They give so much back to all of us. And, on a final note, just to let you know, it wasn’t so long ago that I was a teenager, which I am pretty chuffed about!

Watch the video below with the messages that the group developed: