Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Turning Point

As I walked through the relief camps near Sukkur, Jamshoro, Khairpur and Thatta (cities of Pakistan) after the floods, I realized how blessed I am to be the way I am. Life changed after some events.

Skipping time... moving, moving, moving! Ah! There you go.

June 2010:
NUMBER 1: I decided to teach at The Citizens' Foundation. It is a school, with many branches, for less-privileged children. Well, I was there, teaching thinking skills and language, and playing games with kids aged between 7 and 12. It was a three week programme.

I learned from those kids more than I could teach them. They seemed content with whatever little they had. Those cracked walls, scraped paint, broken lights and fans, broken desks and chairs, no stationery or paper. Think of a problem you can have with your school, they have it. However, they are still HAPPY! They are happy because they realize how blessed they are. They are happy because they have a school to go to, they learn something everyday. As for me, I loved it there. For three weeks I would wake up every morning excited to see them, wanting to be with them. It was not only fun teaching them, it was also an 'eye-opening' experience. I mean, we keep on complaining about not having that new pen, the school air-conditioner not working, or something else. We should be grateful for what we have. 
I made some new friends there too (colleagues). 

These kids shall not be forgotten.

This was my class

NUMBER 2: I used to frequent Dar-ul-Sukoon (home and school for people with psychological and physiological disorders) during my summer vacations. I always felt happy there. It gave me a chance to reflect upon ALL the blessings I have in my life. It also gave me a chance to help and serve all the people there. Playing with them was part of my every visit.

Friends and I with three residents of Dar-ul-Sukoon.

July 2010: The night of Fifa Finals I reached home at 4 am, three hours later I was waiting at KFC for other people to arrive. We were going to do a polio drive in the slums of Qayyumabad (an area in Karachi). Oh! I was informed of it and convinced to come for it in these 3 these hours.

It was organized by Rotary International and different Rotaract Clubs from Karachi participated to make it a success. There were a total of 78 volunteers, and it was 3 day long drive, 4 - 5 hours each day. We immunized over 1600 children, and according to Rotarians this is one of the highest targets ever achieved. This again was an amazing experience and the starting point of my 'career' in the Rotary circle. 2 days after the NID (National Immunization Days) I joined Rotaract Club of Karachi Cosmopolitan. 
Back to the polio drive. I walked through those narrow streets administering polio drops to young children, thinking how privileged I am. Another stream of thoughts. We whine about not having good homes, clean water supply, load-shedding and dirty streets. These people didn't have any such thing. They were living in slums and deprived of other things.

Volunteers from the first polio drive.

October 2010: I received a text message for another polio drive in the same area. This time it was a one day drive, however, it turned out to be a two day drive. Let me tell you how.

First day, I went there, took a friend with me, turns out there are only 14 other volunteers. We didn't lose hope, we set out to immunize as many children as we could. This polio drive was called a 're-sweep' because it was held to cover those children which were left last time.  After 4 hours all we could find were some 40 children. 
Later that day, around 9 pm, I received a call from the District Polio Governor asking me to take lead on a polio drive next day. When I asked him about the number of volunteers available, guess what he said? ONE! I simply said 'challenge accepted' and started messaging all my friends to volunteer for this cause. Next morning, to my surprise, 38 people showed up on such a short notice. In the next 4 hours that followed we had immunized over 200 children.
This was an accomplishment. We did a good job, and this was my first community project in which I was playing the leading role.

I shall continue in another post.