Javed Laher, a Founders Circle member, is a dynamic digital media professional who’s worked with global companies including Microsoft, Amazon and IBM. Based on his expertise and interests, he firmly believes that technology is the answer to enhancing the impact of development work. We caught up with him to discuss his views and thoughts.
Our Mental Health Programme in Pakistan capitalises on technology to amplify its impact to reach as many people as possible. What do you think is the importance of mental health awareness in South Asia?
Given the stigma attached with mental health in South Asia, I think it’s important to bring to surface the reality that there are silent sufferers, especially in Pakistan. We can take steps towards solving this crisis by supporting spreading awareness about the importance of mental health. Communities must be encouraged to come together and discuss mental health and support people who are suffering instead of isolate or ostracise them.
How do you think the community living here can lend support to important causes in South Asia?
I feel that the diaspora in the U.K. can play an extremely important role helping shape development agenda in Pakistan. If we encourage and support charities, such as the British Asian Trust, who are running mental health programmes in Pakistan, we can highlight the real need for it in the country. It is with the backing of people living in the UK as well as those living abroad that stigma, causes and treatments related to mental health can be addressed. The diaspora in the UK can also take special interest in the programmes that charities are running to ensure that they have the necessary resources to have maximum impact.
What is the reason you chose to support the British Asian Trust?
I was a keen follower of the great work that the British Asian Trust was doing in South Asia before I decided to become a supporter. I admire that it addresses not just one cause but is working on several problematic areas in South Asia such as mental health, anti-trafficking, education as well as empowering women. I feel that the British Asian Trust just doesn’t design standalone programmes but really uses their convening abilities to bring relevant, important players to the table to make definitive change instead of short term solutions.
What has your experience been like so far of supporting the British Asian Trust?
I wholeheartedly stand by my decision of joining the Founders Circle at the British Asian Trust. It’s a great way of networking with likeminded individuals and pooling our resources together to make change in South Asia. The organisations that the British Asian Trust works with, the in-country partners and the projects are all well thought out and match my agenda and passion in wanting to make a positive difference to the world.
What message would you have for people to encourage them to support our work?
I would fully recommend supporting such an amazing charity who I fully trust to make the difference I’ve always wanted to see in the world. I feel the way to make a positive change in the world is through systematic programmes that aim towards long term impact. The usual traditional approaches to international development tend to be short-term and often focus on project activities and the British Asian Trust is changing that by focusing on outcomes and impact. There is also power in numbers; we should all band together with the British Asian Trust, who have specialist regional knowledge and best equipped to use resources most effectively, to make our support count.