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Meet Our Purposeful Leaders: Areej

P3 is proud to support purposeful young leaders who want to instigate social impact in their communities. We'll be featuring some of our purposeful leaders in a series of interviews which will allow us to get to know them, starting with Areej Al Medinah.

Areej is part of the P3 family and a promising young leader. Fresh from being named one of the Social Venture Challenge winners at the Resolution Project at the One Young World Summit 2019 in London, we asked Areej a few questions about her passions and where she hopes to focus her energies to help bring about social change.

Q: Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

A: Hi, I'm Areej from Pakistan. I'm an engineering undergraduate student, and being at Pakistan's first and only liberal arts university - Habib University, I am inclined towards solving social issues creatively through technology. My interest lies in combining well designed social and civic innovation to drive impact. Previously, I've studied Technology and Innovation at Stanford, where I've also been a part of Silicon Valley Innovation Academy. I am the global finalist of Entrepreneurs’ Organization Global Student Entrepreneur Awards (GSEA) 2019, one of the world's biggest student entrepreneur competition. (Previously, she co-founded ConnectHear, a social startup that promotes deaf inclusion, which has been a recipient of the Diana Award.)

Q: What do you see as your purpose?

A: After working with the disability inclusion and accessibility sector targeted towards SDG 11: Reduced Inequalities for over two years, I realized that I'm passionate about driving change for social impact. I believe finding a purpose is a continuous challenge, but I spend a significant amount of time towards putting in effort in civic and social interventions.

Q: What SDGs do you work towards?

A: Currently, I am working on creating interventions to solve Karachi's water crisis, which relates to SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation. Karachi is the sixth most water-scarce city, and Karachi's water crisis is more of a man-made crisis. With inadequate data about the infrastructure, interventions to account for leakage, theft or responsible water consumption is practically impossible.

Q) What is your SDG action plan?

Currently, Karachi is served only 50% of the water it needs, of which more than 30% is lost due to leakage and theft. Myself, along with my team of interdisciplinary thinkers, creators and innovators - Ali, Narjis and Mursalin, are working to bridge the vacuum of infrastructure data available for Karachi's water ecosystem. This includes the pumping stations, water hydrants, pipelines and water mafia that exist in Karachi. With the data in place, we hope that future interventions such as water metering and theft sensors can be made possible. The water crisis is a wicked problem, a problem that has gained resilience throughout the years. The problem looks daunting, but someone has to do something, and infrastructure mapping is the first step to solving the water crisis in Karachi.

This particular project also falls in line with SDGs 9, 11 and 12 - Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure; Sustainable Cities and Communities; and Responsible Consumption and Production respectively.

Q: What have your barriers been, and what change do you want to see to remove these barriers?

Over the years of working in the social innovation sector in Pakistan, a barrier that has been repetitively faces is the involvement of stakeholders at all levels. One changemaker cannot bring a change if the governmental authorities, the private organizations and most importantly, the community itself cannot become a part of the solution. A way to tackle this is to create interactive platforms which promote dialogue between all the stakeholders. These can be discussions, sessions, or large scale marches which bring attention to the pressing issues and pressurize all the stakeholders to participate.

Q: How have platforms such as One Young World helped you?

A: Conferences and platforms like the One Young World Summit promote this collaboration, as well as equip young leaders with the right tools and connections to ignite impact in their own communities. Over the past two years, having attended several conferences and making connections with people working in similar domains, we all have helped each other grow, collaborate and in challenging times, support each other with unending hope. During my time at ConnectHear, working with deaf people, we connected Indian deaf individuals to Pakistani deaf individuals to remove the inhibitions each community has about the other. I believe that every community is analogous in terms of the challenges they face, and with changemakers collaborating between communities, we can follow the examples of other communities battling social issues, and simultaneously set examples of our work for other communities to follow.

Areej is currently dedicating her efforts to the water infrastructure project in Karachi, which has the potential to make water accessible for the entire city. Areej is open to sharing her experience with people interested in similar social impact domains. If you’d like more details about her work or to discuss a collaboration she can be contacted here.

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