Tuesday, August 14, 2012

To my beloved youth

We are the medium of change

Today I address you…yes you, the one who call themselves the youth of Pakistan. I am directly referring to the people who have lost their loved ones in terrorist activities, ones who are or have ever been bullied, abused, harassed just because of their nationality, the ones who are alone and feel like they don’t fit in, those who are jobless or going through severe turmoil and planning to abandon their nation just as the nation abandoned them.
Listen to me carefully! I entered this world helpless, vulnerable and many predicted that my survival was almost impossible but in contrary to their beliefs, I survived. It was indeed a roller coaster ride, as the nation once respected became the most dangerous. But all of it is a mere facade created to demoralize us because our country is unique for several notable reasons which rarely or never get the attention they deserve in world media.
You may feel like your life is at a stand still, like nothing is even worth it as that is all you witness but it won’t go on forever. I don’t care if we are Sindhi, Punjabi, Balochi or Pathan; you deserve to wake up every morning and smile. No one has the right to judge you or to tell you that you are not good enough. There are no good and bad leaders, only good and bad people who advise those leaders so do voice your opinion. If there is something you think is not going right, share your views and let the world know how you feel about it but do it all productively. You aren’t going to get justice through fueling tires and taking innocent lives. Make sure that whatever road you choose, it is the one you can live with. Be brave to take chances and don’t ever miss opportunities. It might change your life in a way you have never imagined. If you don’t take some calculated risks in life, you will never get to where you want to be.
I promise you this that everything will fit into place and you will finally be able to see me reaching heights again but only if you work hard and never differentiate among your fellow Pakistanis. Every day is a new day and no matter what is wrong, there is always an answer.  Keep going and never ever give up on me or on yourself.

Courtesy: Unique Pakistan

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Khana Ghar – Feeding the hungry

A hungry person can't see right or wrong

We are citizens of a third-world country where hunger is undoubtedly the worst weapon of mass destruction and is the cause of most evils. It doesn’t seem so to many of us because majority reading this have been blessed and never experienced the harsh atrocities of life.  Good news is that we now posses the resources at hand to defeat this cruel enemy at a very reasonable cost and provide food for the hungry but sadly, no one comes forward to end this scourge of poverty.
Within the scintillating lights of the city Karachi lies Khuda ki Basti, an area which is the blatant proof of why hunger is a terrifying torture. In the year 2002, a lady named Parveen Saeed set out to bring a change by eliminating the hunger through Khana Ghar .She and her husband are also the founders of Hassan Saeed Welfare Trust which runs two major projects, Khana Ghar and Dawa Ghar (Medical and Maternity home).
I have seen her on a couple of TV shows and always had the urge to meet her in person.  Last year I was given an assignment to interview a personality and the first named that popped into my mind was of her. Being a resident of Surjani Town herself, she and her husband are both educated and have earned their Masters degree in Journalism from Karachi University.  Both of them were absolute philanthropist by heart and wanted to make themselves productive towards the society and destiny soon provided them with the opportunity.
Nine years back, Parveen Saeed once heard news of a woman who had murdered her two children because she couldn’t bear to watch them slowly starve to death. That incident was disheartening enough to shock her from the inside and she thought of acting immediately. Hence the idea of Khana Ghar sparked where a full meal for only 3 rupees would be available for the residents of the area. There are hundreds and thousands of philanthropic organizations providing free food but she still charges a cent, why is that? She replied, that she wants to send a message that when people buy or pay even a little they will not misuse food and second, the logic of keeping a very low price will in turn drive people to work enough to get this meal. Hence, changing their perspective on life. But it’s free for the homeless senior citizens, widows and children. Also on religious occasions, they do announce packages in which a two-month reserve of food stock is given as well.
Hurdles are part of the process when one decides to do something for the benefit of the society. Similarly, journey to the Khana Ghar wasn’t even close to the word easy.  They started off with a door-to-door free food delivery service. Later, cart vendors were hired to deliver food tiffins to the needy in the area.
It’s really a tough call when the organization itself is running on funds. Around 300 people eat at Khana Ghar daily and the cost of it is about Rs. 10,000 a day and with the growing recession rate, it’s really getting hard for them to maintain the budget. The organization does not spend any money on advertisement campaigns due to the same reason. Since 2007, the electronic and print media have been approaching them for documentaries and interviews. In their words, all this media attention has helped them in gathering a good amount of national and international donors but their number is not large. The organization even allow citizens to investigate on their own about Khana Ghar’s credibility before handing over there donations as they don’t want people to remain in any doubt.
Parveen Saeed’s dream is to open a branch of Khana Ghar in every under-developed area of Karachi as she believes that if we pledge to eliminate hunger, we can surely reduce the growing crime rate.

Courtesy: Unique Pakistan

Friday, August 3, 2012

Protecting the precious

Protection is needed for survival

As the December dawn announced its arrival, the snow swirled down in great flurries over the halcyon town of Khushbahar. Drooping with the weight of snow on their branches, the trees that were dotted
 along the road’s edges allowed snow to occasionally fall on the alabaster ground at the slightest sigh of the frigid wind. The town breathed in silence leaving its foot imprints in the snow-accumulated streets as frost lay thick all around the scene.
The densely populated village of Khushbahar, situated in the northern province of Swat glittered with its outstanding beauty. The lush-green valleys with its gushing streams, icy-cold lakes and fruit-laden orchards served as a perfect sight for the tourists.
Just like everyday, truck driver Shadman was preparing for his journey to the main city of Saidu Sharif almost 12 km away from the village. “You promised to take me today,” pleaded his 8-year-old son. Shadman knew that the weather change could come in very rapidly and Mother Nature was known to team up with inclined roads to even befuddle those drivers that were used to such conditions. But his son kept insisting and refused to calm down. Analyzing the weather, Shadman noticed that the sky was relatively clear that day and the air was crispy with lucid weather conditions. “Alright son, go get inside the truck,” The smile on his son’s face was all he wanted and they both clambered into the truck, looking forward to a pleasant trip.
The road was a bit slippery and scattered snow showers had dusted a few spots in the region. The influx of tourists created a traffic jam at points leading towards the city and the road was packed with vehicles. Just as their truck was about to take a turn, a speedy car came racing towards them.
The wind-whipped snow, forming a thick fog completely blinded him and momentarily out of control, his truck slammed into the nearby trees and the world went dark before his eyes. On regaining consciousness, he found himself in a hospital and was informed that his son had gotten severely injured as a result of falling off the hillside road.
Even though he had known that the roads were gravely and greasy, he had never complained for the installation of traffic barriers to prevent errant vehicles and travellers from falling off the hillside road. Shadman started shaking like a leaf upon this realization, as he knew that his son was his only treasure left after his deceased wife. Day and night he earnestly kept praying to the Almighty that he might see the pristine face of his son again. After assorted surgeries, his son was able to move his body parts to some extent.
Later, a meeting of the truck drivers was arranged where Shadman tried to convince them to join him on a petition for installation of traffic barriers. Snow in the spring and fall tends to be very slick and melts off fast, but can be fatal to the tourists who aren’t familiar with the conditions. The Municipal Council had constructed the roads by spending huge amount from the public exchequer but after the passage of few months, the roads started breaking down creating the slick spots near intersections. A consensus was agreed upon during the meeting on writing a letter to the District Development Authority for rehabilitation of various roads and installation of road barriers.
It was only when the letter was written that Shadman’s conscience eased a bit.
Snowfall season in hill stations attracts a large number of domestic and foreign tourists from across the world but due to the snow flurry, tires can lose all contact with the road and a slight change of direction or a gust of wind could throw vehicles off the skid. The pace of work on the reconstruction of broken roads and setting up of barriers need to accelerate before God forbid, we suffer from huge physical and financial losses.
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