How COVID changed a 14-y/old Pakistani’s life

Quote from Amna Habiba, follow me on Twitter at amnajournies

2020 has been an unpredictable year. From a global pandemic to disruption in our everyday lives, nothing has been the same. We have been through a year that tested our flexibility, adaptability and invoked real potential. For me it was a game-changer and has played a very big part in identifying who I am and how I can play a role in this world.

A year ago in March 2020, WHO declare COVID-19 as a global pandemic, the impact was drastic and unpredictable. SARS-CoV-2, as we now know it to be called, has killed over 2.5 million people and infected at least 116 million.

But every cloud has a silver lining and with this pandemic came a time for people to rethink humanity and how valuable life is.

Hi, I am Amna Habiba. A now 15 y/old 10th grader from Pakistan and this is my story.

When this pandemic affected my home country Pakistan, I was preparing for my board exams for grade 9 which eventually got canceled. This aura of uncertainty and uneasiness felt over many households, people started losing their jobs and every news that we heard was scary.

COVID took a toll on the mental health of many young teens, and social media worsened it even more. As a gateway to relaxing, others my age indulged in apps (SnapChat, TikTok, Instagram etc), video games, movies, and more.

But I never enjoyed doing these things and wasn't sure of what to do with all the time on my hands. And then the turning point in my life came…

My mom recommended an online course (my first ever course was on web design), it wasn't anything special but an eye-opener back then as it opened a whole new world of learning and discovery for me, because it was something students weren’t exposed to until university level.

This was a life-turning point as it changed my perspective on what education actually meant around the world. And led me to asking myself,

How can I be productive?

BitmoAmna on a certificate

And that led me to complete more than 80 courses, 40+ guided projects on topics that I had never even known about before.

And then there was a point where I wanted to more than just courses, so I attended various boot camps, conferences, summits, workshops, trainings, and would learn something new each new day.

Each day I would get the opportunity to learn something new and become a better version of myself, being inspired by all of the valuable resources I had gathered in this time.

At the same time, my friends would tease me for not being on the apps they were using, so I realized that I had to distance myself from them because exploring unknown territory was more interesting than being stuck in a circle of anxiety and social depression while scrolling through a social feed.

To keep track of all the certificates gathered, my mom suggested that I create a LinkedIn profile to put them all there, I did create one and then started following and networking with inspiring people.

All this led to another realization:

BitmoAmna question inbox with waves below

When I started with e-learning back in March, I got the chance to expand my skill set and explore many new fields plus found out how important it is for people to be digitally literate in today’s world.

This question led me to analyze the circumstances and situations in Pakistan that I had witnessed with my own eyes. Lack of opportunities and awareness, limiting mindsets surrounding girls’ studies, stereotypes, and unreliable learning sources. These problems needed to be solved and fast.

My mom, an advocate for girl education and social change and 10+ years of experience volunteering helped me understand why girls here only have access to limited opportunities to grow their skillset and why there needs to be more awareness and opportunities for them.

And that was the start of Global Creative Hub, a social development initiative founded by me and my mom to make e-learning more accessible for Pakistani girls belonging to underprivileged communities.

Global Creative Hub gave me the courage and motivation to build upon my skill set and find new opportunities to grow, some of the significant ones were:

A mentorship program, won 2 hackathons, a mental health project, an accelerator program, 2 internships, one fellowship, pitchfest, interviewed, keynote speeches, selected for the most prestigious STEM program, global collaborations, organized a hackathon, and more.

All of this has shaped me into who I am today and helped me to make an impact in the lives of others in whatever possible ways. Now that I look back to the me in 2019 I am 100% sure that I made a decision that I will never regret.

If you would like to learn more about me, please check https://amnahabiba.bio.link

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Amna Habiba

Amna Habiba

15 y/old | Founder globalcreativehub.com | International Speaker | STEM Enthusiast