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Pakathon: Boston techies tackle Pakistan problems

A group of Boston activists believe technology is key to helping Pakistan tackle its social and humanitarian problems.

Founding team of Pakathon from left Batool Raza, Adrienne Cochrane, Asad Badruddin, Zheela Gaiser, Osama Badar and Madeeha Channah. PHOTO BY NICOLAUS CZARNECKI/METRO Founding team of Pakathon from left to right: Batool Raza, Adrienne Cochrane, Asad Badruddin, Zheela Gaiser, Osama Badar and Madeeha Channah. Wardah Inam, not pictured.
PHOTO BY NICOLAUS CZARNECKI/METRO

A group of Boston activists believe technology is the key to helping Pakistan tackle its social and humanitarian problems.

Leading up the effort are Asad Badruddin and Zheela Qaiser, the creators of a hackathon-style event, called "Pakathon," that will be held at Hack/Reduce in Cambridge from Sept. 13 to Sept. 15.

"Just getting people together to work on something and spark that kind of creative energy and cross collaborate, that in and of itself is the beginning of something positive," said Qaiser.

The conference pairs techies with mentors, giving them 40 hours to create a software or hardware solution that tackles issues of health, violence, energy, education, disaster relief and agriculture. The group with the best idea will get $5,000 to put the project into play, as well as access to mentors, partnerships and non-governmental organizations.

"Technology is the answer for the developing world. I hope Pakathon will be the start of a dialogue that will find one such answer for the many issues Pakistan faces," said Batool Raza, a Pakathon organizer.

Badruddin, 23, and Qaiser, 24, both grew up in Karachi, and came to Boston to attend college. Having witnessed first hand the problems plaguing their home nation, the pair decided that the time for action is now.

"We have an idea of the problems (facing Pakistan), but the next step is to ask, 'What can we do about it?'" said Badruddin.

Organizers said they hope to get more participants on board.

"Hopefully one or two great ideas will come out of the weekend," said Qaiser. "But I think this will be a spark that catalyzes future events in the same vein, and I count that as a success."

Sign up is available at Pakathon.eventbrite.com.

Follow Morgan Rousseau on Twitter: @MetroMorgan
Follow Metro Boston on Twitter: @MetroBOS

 
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