Nazir Ahmad Ghazi

Ashoka Fellow
Gwadar, Pakistan
Fellow Since 2008


This profile was prepared when Nazir Ahmad Ghazi was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2008.
The New Idea
Nazir is helping Pakistan’s gypsy population integrate into urban life by reducing prejudice against gypsies and by empowering gypsy communities to access better housing, education, health care, and jobs. Nazir sees his work as part of a larger effort to promote tolerance and peaceful coexistence among the many cultural and religious groups living in Pakistan.

Nazir is paving the way for enhanced citizens’ rights for gypsies and other historically marginalized groups. He is demonstrating to the government and society how challenges of service delivery can be overcome through community-based development activities, provided that their basic citizen and housing rights are recognized and provided for.

Nazir organizes gypsies to merge into urban life without changing their way of life or identities, and provides them with tools and education to cope with life in a new context. Through his organization Godh, Nazir has developed a package of services that include education for children and their families, basic health care, and training of community leaders—especially women—in job skills and citizen organizing. All the services are delivered through a social mobilization unit that first gains trust of the community and helps them link up with other stakeholders.

At the same time, Nazir is involved in research and advocacy to help gypsies acquire land and services especially with the Municipal government. Nazir uses theater groups, posters, and gypsies’ participation in local festivals and city events as methods to expose the society to the virtues and talents of the gypsy community. Godh also organizes seminars and conferences and has made a documentary on gypsy life to break the myth of gypsies as criminals and immoral people.

Nazir founded Godh to organize gypsies at the periphery of Lahore, a city where the majority of gypsy groups come to during their travel, and where an increasing number of gypsies have taken up permanent residence. Through this initial hub, Godh is reaching out to other gypsies as well in the province while building understanding and cooperation between gypsies and the rest of society so that rights can be ensured and peaceful coexistence can be a reality.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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