Alumnus Led Venture ‘Saving 9’ Wins Columbia University Grant

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Saving 9 is an Islamabad-based hybrid model organisation cofounded by LUMS alumnus Usama Javed (BS 2013) that aims to create communities of care in Pakistan around pre-hospital care for both physical and mental health emergencies. They do this by spreading first aid and mental health literacy among communities around Pakistan. Saving 9 works closely with these communities to set up locally run and owned systems that work to mitigate casualties.

This year Saving 9 was awarded $25,000 by the Columbia Business School’s Tamer Center for Social Enterprise to expand upon their current initiatives and to launch one of the world's first mental health ambulance systems. Mental health is a crisis across Pakistan that is now gradually gaining some awareness, however, there are very few support systems available to those struggling. The first mental health ambulance was launched in Sweden in 2017, and Saving 9 will likely be the pioneering organisation in this regard for the whole of South Asia.

Last year the Saving 9 team were finalists for Harvard University's South Asia Institute's Seed for Change competition. With the funding received, they have worked to nurture a first aid literate community in Pind Begwal, a village on the outskirts of Islamabad, launched Pakistan's first women-led and run ambulance system and revived Pakistan's long since defunct Scouts system for high schools.

LUMS has been pivotal in Mr. Javed’s decision to set up Saving 9. At the University, Mr. Javed trained as a First Responder through the LUMS Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and dealt with over 250 emergency calls on campus. Those experiences changed him, helping him discover the joy in volunteering, and the euphoria that comes with seeing someone regain the smile on their face after an emergency is over and they are well again.  In his last year at LUMS, Mr. Javed became EMS’s Training and Development Head of Department, and trained over 30 new First Responders. Speaking of his experience of training other First Responders he says, “Here I fell in love with teaching, and made many close bonds with my students.” Many of his teammates who he bonded with during his days at LUMS are now part of Saving 9.

Saving 9 reenvisions the way that first aid is taught by making it fun, engaging, hands-on, and relevant. The team also focuses on building socio-emotional skills like compassionate communication in emergencies, and self-anxiety control in high stress scenarios. Saving 9 recently conducted a teacher training workshop for LUMS EMS, and also trained the members in psychological first aid.

Saving 9 has come a long way in two years, and Usama feels humbled and grateful, “It was only made possible through the support of many people, including family and friends, and a wonderful team including our wonderful advisory board.” Saving 9 is now partnering with LUMS EMS to continue spreading first aid education and set up student-run EMS systems in other universities across Pakistan.