Maybe this is slightly biased but Pakistan’s portfolio of representatives is impressive AF. With multidimensional leaders like Imran Khan, brave human rights advocates like Malala Yousafzai and Mukhtar Mai, and those committed to human service like the Late Edhi Sahab, the world must be well aware of the quality of humans we produce here.
And while these people and the values they represent have been instrumental in Pakistan’s progress, they are only the tip of the iceberg. This piece aims to highlight some other gems that have been too busy on the ground getting their hands dirty for themselves or anyone else to notice their precious value. While they do not seek credit, it is always important to take a break from the chaos of our complicated times to shine a light on whats going well in the world. This week, as Pakistan steps towards its 71st birthday, we celebrate the following individuals and institutions that are the paragons of Pakistani success.
1) Hope Uplift Foundation (HUF)
Founded in 2000, Hope Uplift Foundation was the brainchild of a few friends with the simple desire to bring about positive change in Pakistan. Eighteen years on it functions at a grander scale than the founders themselves had initially imagined.
With strong female leadership, the NGO’s members have dedicated themselves to running several successful programs in the spheres of education, hunger relief, and public assistance. With its core focus on sustained poverty relief, HUF has developed open community gardens, built wells in arid regions, empowered women in low-income areas with employments opportunists, its magnum opus being its school.
The NGO is locally managed by Lubna Shakoh, Tayyaba Khalid, Durreshawar Kamal, Shahida Arshad, Nyla Sammar, Dr. Faiza and several other women with a similar passion to mobilize change.
With 4 canal land, secured free of cost by the authorities of DHA, the school was built by the renowned architect, Gulzar Ahmed. With these incredible omens, the school is set to open its doors to its first batch this academic year. The school is anticipated to provide state of the art facilities, impeccable faculty, and contemporary design.
The school aims at taking in more than 500 students while charging them a menial monthly fee of 100PKR.
2) Serene Organics
Serene Organics is a venture started by social entrepreneurs Fatima Qayyum and Ronaq Usman. The brand aims to create wider availability of purely organic products and its business model is based on uplifting local vendors as well as women working from home.
They collaborated with names like Depilex and the Smile Again Foundation and have secured the local television actor Zara Noor Abbas as their brand ambassador. Their latest “Finding Serenity in Me” campaign was aimed at instilling a sense of self-love and independence in all those women who may feel defeated by their tough lives and denied by society.
The brand aims to support those ambitious and talented women that may simply lack the platform to bring out their potential. The campaign aimed at fostering courage and self-confidence in women scarred by life’s complexities.
Serene desires to create unity between the social classes, encouraging the more privileged members of society bridge the needs of those without basic provisions.
3) Sameena Ejaz
Having lost her son in a tragic and high profile accident, Sameena Ejaz and her husband have since dedicated great resources to preventing anyone else reliving their trauma.The couple lost their young son in a gas explosion that led to severe burns forcing the youth to ultimately succumb to his injuries. Since the fateful day, the two have contributed uncountable sums of money to improving Mayo Hospital’s burn ward, personally visiting families as ambassadors and counselors.
Yes we have money, but it stopped meaning anything when it could not save my son’s life. Now we are trying to use it to improve the chances of survival that my son didn’t have. -Sameena Ejaz
By investing in health care, the Afzaals have admirably turned their misfortune into a precious opportunity to protect human life.
BullyProof is a social awareness campaign targeting young Pakistanis across the country in a bid to foster empathy, equality, and kindness in the classroom. The young founder, Zainab Chugtai, is an advocate and therapist by profession. She aims to address the pressing concerns of mental health that are often ignored in the school environment.
She was amongst one of the esteemed speakers at the TedXLahore Women event.
She shared her own life’s story and how bullying can leave deep long-term scars. Since the initiation of the program, Chugtai has visited several schools to conduct sessions with students, teachers, and parents, enabling them to identify and stand up to bullying. Chugtai is the epitome of a beautiful soul and is living proof that instant connections can be drawn if children are taught how to stay in touch with their emotional side, free of gender biases.
Jahandad Khan initiated an online book exchange forum that now has become a lifestyle club for readers around the world. Founded in 2018, Bookay is described by some as a sanctuary and an escape from the daily grind.
Bookay is known for its writers, poets, bloggers, and speakers from Pakistan to people of similar stature from across the globe. It’s a platform that pushes beyond religious, social and political boundaries. Bookay is the initiative of an avid Pakistani reader and how the love for books can connect the world. With more than 9000 members, the group continues to expand the boundaries of literacy in Pakistan.
These examples of altruism, passion, and hard work are indicative of a bright future for Pakistan. And as Pakistan turns 71, let us all check in with the talent hidden inside ourselves, to sincerely identify the barriers to action, and to learn from those that have managed to overcome these barriers to getting started.