“Markhor was just an idea for a team of 8 enthusiasts till the sunset of June 26, 2013, when they left the meeting room of Headstart School, Islamabad with a faith that something greater is on their way. Since then the game has been changed. The spark ignited by just few souls has impacted thousands of lives, just in a short time period of two years. Markhor – which was named after Pakistan’s national animal – has been regarded as a vigorous beginning of a social movement amongst the youth of Pakistan. What makes Markhor, the Markhor?
The literal meaning of the name Markhor is snake eater, though we are not sure if this wonderful creature eats or kills snakes to survive. But one thing is certain that it goes through an unbelievably challenging life cycle for its existence. Markhor being an endangered species lives at high altitudes, where the rocky terrain, steep climbs, shortage of food and chase by hunters are some of the factors adding to the worries of this graceful animal. Resilience, patience and adaptability are developed as innate qualities as an outcome of this challenging life style.
Markhor being the national animal of Pakistan is a symbol of pride and nobility. The challenges it faces in the life and in result, the qualities it develops has been used as a metaphor for naming Pakistan’s first wilderness based youth leadership conference. We have conceived that Pakistani youth, facing an un-ending wave of uncertainty, change and urge to survive have developed a Markhor spirit within themselves. The spirit which demands them to be agile, high in energy, self-motivated, extremely adaptable, tolerant, committed and daring to confront the challenges like a Markhor.
Markhor is not yet another youth conference, where the youth meets, gets motivated, has fun and returns with mere good memories. From the day one, we were clear about Markhor being a platform that sets the foundation for a long term, sustainable social change in the country through youth engagement and development. Incorporating our decade long wilderness based corporate leadership and international youth leadership development experiences, our team at Youth Impact has decided to offer a unique and first of its kind learning platform for Pakistani youth. It’s distinctive wilderness based methodology, fascinating themes, serene locations, and a wide range of seasoned mentors and speakers has enabled Markhor to attract youth from all corners of the country. Out of many best experiences declared by the past delegates, diversity has been rated as one of the unique features of Markhor conference. One can meet youth from all geographical regions, representing all ethnic groups, with very diverse group mix representing gender, religious and socio-economic segments of the society. Awais Ali, one of the past delegates from Gilgit expresses his satisfaction as, “the best thing which Markhor taught individuals was ‘integration in diversity’. A concept of Pakistan hotel was presented having six contents in menu; Gilgit-Baltistan, Azad Kashmir, KPK, Punjab, Balochistan and Sindh.
The delegates are short listed through an intense process where thousands of young applicants with high hopes to be selected, try to prove their keenness to be part of this life time experience. Only few can make it till the end. Those who are best of the best are taken to the next level, where through an intense four days long social leadership development experience, they leave the conference with a clear road map for their own life as well as their role in the national development. Taking an oath to give back to the society about what they have gained and learnt in those 84 life changing hours, they return homes with a greater responsibility on their shoulders.
Markhor is not just an eye opening experience. Yes, they do learn from each other, get connected with the nature, get inspiration from the mentors, and at the end, develop their own agenda for social impact. And the most profound experience is about being part of a year-long leadership development program on returning from Markhor. This program, called G77, is one of the most unique features of the post-conference activities, where each individual has to dedicate a greater deal of time and effort to meet the challenging goals of this program. The program takes them through intense modules covering reading and writing assignments, community projects, fund raisers, life-skills trainings, coaching and mentoring and volunteering. Once qualified in all modules, the participants are declared as ‘Certified Young Leaders’. These young souls are the future face of Pakistan, where Youth Impact believes that developing 10,000 such dedicated, responsible, self-motivated and ethical youth social leaders by year 2025 can transform the destiny of our beloved nation. Markhor is the agenda for a social change, it is not just a conference, rather a vision to raise the nation with Markhor spirit.”
Abdul Samad Khan,
September 1, 2015