Aman Chaupal:

A Palace of Hope


Amid the serene landscapes of Sanda Kalan in District Kasur stands a monumental structure that echoes the rich tapestry of the region—a symbol reborn as Aman Chaupal. This unique pavilion  exists thanks to Shakeel Ahmed, a proud native of Sanda Kalan who is passionate about reviving the fading community traditions.

He envisioned Aman Chaupal as an inclusive physical space where communal celebrations flourish, and collective issues resolve. His dream was for an all-inclusive place where all genders and people from all faiths and religions could freely visit and feel empowered and all cultural activities could be held.

For Shakeel, this initiative holds a profound significance, rooted in the historical role of Chaupals in fostering communal harmony. "Chaupals [were once] neutral grounds where disputes were amicably resolved, and all were welcome, irrespective of social standing or beliefs." However, over time, these once vibrant spaces gradually transformed into council offices or privately owned properties, losing their grassroots community essence. 

Supported by the Simurg Fund (Hive’s Local Action Fund) and a dedicated three-member committee, which included Tayyaba, an enthusiastic female youth activist, Shakeel set forth to transform his vision into a tangible reality. Tayyaba also helped mobilise women from Sanda Kalan and encouraged them to come out and own Aman Chaupal too. They began to build an ecologically sustainable community hub on land generously donated by Haji Muhammad Rafiq.

Shakeel and Tayyaba, Sitting in Aman Chaupal

Volunteers generously devoted over six months, offering their time, effort, and the resources required to craft four surrounding gardens. Shafi Ullah Khan, the District Governor, articulated, "The community's dedication and the shared ownership of Aman Chaupal motivate us to support it continually."

Today, Aman Chaupal stands as a beacon of community strength. Its red brick structure complements the surrounding greenery, offering a cool, airy refuge in the sweltering summers. Deemed the "Palace of Sanda Kalan," it has become a focal point for diverse gatherings and celebrations. Hafiz Abdul Latif, a local mosque cleric and an avid Aman Chaupal supporter, fondly reflects, "It is not just a Chaupal; it’s a palace, a spectacle for people far and wide."

With the youth enthusiastically participating in organizing events, the spirit of unity and cultural engagement has blossomed. The vibrant space not only provides recreation but serves as the ground for a youth organization to take communal initiatives supporting community needs, such as the development of a community bathroom and the installation of a water tank. 

Empowering women to lead and inspire change is central to the ethos of Aman Chaupal. Tayyaba organized educational sessions addressing mental health and child exploitation issues prevalent in the community. Her heartfelt efforts manifest in the safe haven she creates for vulnerable children to confide in. In her words, “We tackle education barriers caused by abuse, ensuring children don't remain victims.” The initiative not only raises awareness but also nurtures a supportive community fabric, working to address sensitive issues efficiently. 

Furthermore, Tayyaba's proactive approach in a recent case of child exploitation underscored the village's collective support system. The incident's sensitively managed discussion gathered community members, law enforcement, clerics, and educators at Aman Chaupal, shedding light on the severity of the issue and addressing the legal course of action. Shakeel's vigilance fostered a culture of responsiveness and resilience. 

Aman Chaupal's resounding success echoes far beyond Sanda Kalan. It serves as a guiding light, as 125 Union Councils passed a resolution of replicating this communal hub in every district. The unanimous resolution endorses the space's pivotal role in fostering community cohesion and growth. This inclusive space not only embraces diversity but also challenges rigid traditions, steering Sanda Kalan towards a future of unity and empowerment.

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