Islamabad - Set a narrow goal and you will reach the ceiling. Dream big and you will reach the stars. This is what Wasim Soomro always firmly believed in and perhaps it helped him really touch the sky.

Soomro is a 19-year-old boxer from Lyari, Karachi who followed his passion of designing clothes and is now the first fashion designer from the area. 

Born in a Sindhi family, he grew up in the disturbed town of Lyari, which is known for violence and harassment. The residents of the area lead uncertain and threatened lives, which affects them mentally.

Children in Lyari spend most of their time indoors to avoid harassment and fail to benefit from growth opportunities. In an environment like this where people’s lives are at threat, hoping to pursue a passion is a distant dream but Soomro dared to do it.

At a very early age, he trained to be a boxer for self-defence and to protect his family. One day, the gangs entered his house and forced Soomro to give them access to his belongings in an attempt to plot against the rival gang by getting a better view of the neighbourhood.

That is when he knew that boxing was not enough. How can he fight against weapons and gangs with boxing throughout his life? He knew he needed education and financial empowerment.

The intensity of the fear increased and like any protective son and brother, Soomro took a decision to move out of the town.

After moving out, he enrolled at university to pursue an education in civil engineering but always aspired to design beautiful clothes.

He believed making people wear beautiful clothes is a great way to make them feel beautiful from the inside.

“I wanted to design clothes to spread happiness and make people feel good about themselves. I think this is very important in our disturbed area where people need to look at the world as a more hopeful place,” said Soomro while talking about his passion to design clothes.

Then one night, while scrolling the newsfeed of his Facebook, he came across a post that ignited a spark in him. USAID Youth Employment Project had partnered with a vocational training centre to provide trainings in design and manufacture of clothes to young people in Karachi. Youth Employment Program aims to provide youth with opportunities in order to empower them and increase their vocational skills.

The Youth Employment Project seeks to help build sustainable livelihoods, foster economic growth, and reduce susceptibility to violence by providing demand-driven skills to 13,000 Karachi youth by 2020 and encouraging them to find employment or start businesses. He decided to benefit from this initiative and change his life.

“I used to watch famous celebrities become designers, flaunting their clothes on television. I would often question myself why I can’t do it if they can? Lyari is famous for gang violence and that is the reason why we don’t have any professionals from the creative field. I would wonder how my life would have been different if I was not in Lyari but then I realized that I should not stop dreaming because of my environment. I realized I could use my challenges as a stepping-stone and lead myself to better things in life. This inspired me to become the first fashion designer in Lyari and inspire others to follow their dreams,” he said.

Today, Soomro lives a different life; one where he is empowered with skills and employment. He runs his own boutique and inspires many other young people to take charge of their lives and lead themselves to prosperity.

Soomro, a testament to what happens when you follow your dreams and work hard to achieve them, is now the first fashion designer from Lyari and a hope for many other facing violence and harassment.

 

our staff reporter