Gawaahi.com — our story

18Feb11

This story has been cross-posted in my website, http://gawaahi.com. If you haven’t seen it yet, please go over and have a look.

Gawaahi.com was conceived at a wedding. I know how that sounds, but it’s true. Sana Saleem had just returned from Islamabad where she had trained to record digital stories. I had returned from Bonn, Germany where I had participated in an inspiring conference hosted by Deutsche Welle — the annual Global Media Forum. At the event I had met the creators of crowd-sourced websites, and was enchanted by the idea. Sana and I got to talking, and thought we have to do something like that here in Pakistan. We wanted to do stories, and create a site that sought submissions of digital stories, but we didn’t want it to be news-based.  A bit of her training, a pinch of my experience and that’s Gawaahi.com.

Then came the next step: an idea is great, but it needs support. That came to us first through Jehan Ara, President of P@sha and fairy godmother of Pakistan’s IT industry. The site was started with a Small Grant from the MDG3 Fund as part of an Asia-wide program initiated by APC WSNPTake Back The Tech!, a collaborative campaign to reclaim information and communication technologies to end violence against women, and Bytes for all, ‘a networked space for citizens in South Asia.’ Our second nudge came from my good friend, Guido Baumhauer, Director of Strategy, Marketing and Distribution at Deutsche Welle and new friend, Nadeem Wahid Siddiqui, DW’s Pakistan representative, also Tobias Grote-Beverborg and a host of others at the German media house. Valerie Khan of theAcid Survivors Foundation Pakistan and Samar Minallah, the documentary filmmaker, entrusted us with their support by sharing their film, Against All Odds.

With all that faith in us, we set to work. When it came to developing the content you see now, and we’ll share with you over the next few weeks, there is no way any of it could have happened without Nofil Naqvi, our Technical Consultant, my not-so-little-anymore brother and ace cameraman/editor. In what’s turning out to be a bit of an Oscar rant, I would like to mention Rabia Garib, Editor-in-Chief of CIO Pakistan, whose brain I picked endlessly with the most naive questions, and she responded patiently every time.

Finally, Mehreen KasanaZaina Anwar, Hira Saleem Malik and participants of the Feminist Tech Exchange in Pakistan shared their work with us based on sheer trust.

Phew! To end, if you read our ‘About’ page, you’ll see more about who we are and what we aim to do. Do send your comments, and please send us your stories!

 

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