The Citizens Archive of Pakistan (CAP), in collaboration with Routes2Roots (R2R), an Indian non-profit organisation working for peace and dialogue between Pakistan and India, launched Exchange for Change 2013 – 2015 between 5,000 school children aged 10-14 years from schools across Karachi, Rawalpindi, Lahore, Delhi, Dehradun and Mumbai. The project aims to help students in both countries realize that a sustained dialogue is possible and encourage them to form their own opinions. During the life of this project, a sustained exchange of written, visual and oral histories will take place between the students.
The press conference for the launch of Exchange for Change 2013 – 2015 was presided over by CAP President Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy and featured acclaimed musician Atif Aslam and Routes2Roots Founders Tina Vachani and Rakesh Gupta. CAP Board Members Amean J., Swaleha Alam Shahzada, Ali Reza Mumtaz, Adnan Malik, Ahsan Bilgrami and Sayem Ali were also a part of the proceedings.
During the press conference Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy apprised the audience on CAP and its different projects, while Executive Director Swaleha Alam Shahzada shared details regarding the Exchange for Change 2013 – 2015 programme. Routes2Roots Founder Tina Vachani had travelled from India to attend the event and briefed the audience on Indian perspectives of Pakistan and how a majority of Indians were eager to form bonds of friendship with their Pakistani neighbours. Renowned musician Atif Aslam regaled the audience with stories of his experiences in India and appreciated the efforts of CAP and Routes2Roots to bring both nations closer together. Former Speaker of the National Assembly Illahi Bukhsh Soomro was also present on occasion and appreciated the efforts of CAP and Routes2Roots.
Exchange for Change was launched in September 2010 between 2,400 school children from 10 schools in Karachi, Lahore, Delhi and Mumbai. After its spectacular success the project was expanded in 2012 to 3,500 school children from 17 schools in Karachi, Lahore, Rawalpindi, Delhi, Chandigarh and Mumbai. During the fourteen-month life of the project, a sustained exchange of written, visual and oral histories linked school children aged 10-14 years across the six cities.
Exchange for Change is an initiative by CAP that aims at improving relationships between school students in different countries. Through cross-culture communication it has been observed that students can develop a clearer understanding of their history, culture and lifestyles. CAP believes that such interaction will in turn lead to a positive change and eliminate cultural misconceptions and inter-generational conflict.
Speaking about this initiative, Swaleha Alam Shahzada, Executive Director and Governing Board Member of CAP said: “The growth of the project from 2,400 students in 2010 to 5,000 students in 2013 has created a bridge that can no longer be ignored. These students from across Pakistan and India have taught us a very important lesson – a lesson of tolerance and appreciation of each other. Now it is up to the society to support this bridge and these students in their mission to sustain and strengthen the relationships created through EFC.”
Tina Vachani, Founder of Routes2Roots said: “EFC is not an ordinary program or just an extracurricular activity for children. It is the value we see in the connect between India and Pakistan, which we want to grow with in terms of culture, festivities, lifestyle and sustaining togetherness. The leaders of tomorrow, our children from both countries share the realities for their glorious future.”