Latest posts by Maheen Ahmad (see all)
- Self Projections InterviewwithImad ud Din (Activist) - December 17, 2017
- Meet The Postcard Guy, Danish Khan - June 3, 2017
- Meet Tanzila Khan, The Girl In Wheelchair - May 31, 2017
- How are you?
I am perfectly fine. Thank you Maheen.
- How would you describe the work you do?
Basically whatever we human beings do on earth other than harming others in any way either on an individual or communal level, is benefiting in its nature for the individuals locally as well globally. I work for the development of the society I am part of, in order to transform it in a positive manner. Basically, we through different training sessions and activities, work for underprivileged children, youth their empowerment education and development. Besides, I work for the youth political advocacy as well as flourish their insight into things surrounding them related to national as well international current affairs through connecting them to different think tanks and other organizations by providing them with internships and other experiences. Hence, besides being just an activist, I play my role that of bridging in the society, more of a consultant sort. Besides we have always stood against violations of human as well as youth rights through different rallies and conferences.
- How did you enter the world of activism, charity, and peacebuilding?
Well, it started with a rejection, a failure! We had an event management and a youth-based, and led training society,”Leaders”, affiliated with the “School Of Leadership” in our college, Edward’s college Peshawar back in 2011 when I was studying the first year of my intermediate. I along with two other guys, Safi and Wahab, who became my life lasting friends, was rejected. We were sitting in our lawn playing with the grass lost in our thoughts of failure as if going through the trauma of breakup that meanwhile an idea popped up our minds and so we stepped ahead to arrange an event for kids of an orphanage, Dar-ul-Atfaal. So we started collecting donations from almost each and every college and university in Peshawar, accessing other students, strengthening and widening our team and collected enough from students across Peshawar for the event. We organized the event after a month while collecting donations and provided the kids with gifts and had some fun activities with them that got some media attention and that’s how it started. We got an encouragement, positive feedback from society as well as the kids we worked for. Even the moment we were leaving the place, the kids were asking us “when will we come again” that flooded our eyes with tears and we committed to enduring our time in service of the people. That was the day; I felt the eternal pleasure of paying back to the society at the age of 17. We not only visited colleges and institutions rather in the big Mazda buses, in hostels we tried to collect money for gifts for the kids.
- How long have you been in actively working?
Well, I have been working for past 6 years. It started by serving the kids at orphanages, special children and street children and their education and extended to youth activism, development, counseling, providing them with different opportunities, advocacy, and insight to the public as well as national policies making.
- You’ve obviously done a lot and learned plenty, but how has the calling changed your out take on life?
It has helped me with different things about life. Look each of us is different in certain aspects from another person. When you have this aim in mind that you want to serve your community, a society, you will always have tenderness in your heart for people surrounding you. You ll be more compassionate and accept the differences and diversity. Secondly, working with an aim to serve others is like an addiction that you keep on getting back to it once you taste the tranquility of internal and eternal peace within yourself. So it has turned me into a completely different individual. I believe each of us has to die one day, why shouldn’t we die leaving something worthwhile in the world behind us? To me, life is how we prove ourselves by doing for others. By being in service to others.
- We the general public does admire the work, people like you commit yourselves to but we don’t really get involved as much. How would you advise someone to give back to the community?
Most of the people criticize us for posting things on Facebook, and social media of whatever we do and I stay silent for a while. I reply them by giving names of people their experiences by being in service of the community and tell them how they were actually motivated by our steps we took for other people. What I mean is that, to bring people round for whatever we do is to tell them how it benefits you morally and spiritually. And as a matter of fact, each of us looks for some satisfaction in life, we search it in prayers in recitations and the world of service for others, service for humanity is beyond all, as much as I experienced. Even when someone deliberately sighs out of being too much packed and dissatisfaction, I tell them to visit some orphanage, visit some old age house, spend some time, chill and play with them and you ‘ll realize how beautiful life is. The best way of advice to them is to tell them what they are going to get in return, I mean satisfaction, and signify them the real worth of it that is beyond billions of dollars earned. In fact, each of us tries to be a billionaire to have the luxury and satisfaction but rare know-how in service of others one get to have the real satisfaction. Motivation is the most needed thing. Once they are motivated, their inner wires are stimulated, they can easily step ahead.
7-What is the most rewarding part of what you do?
Working with an aim to render a hand to an individual or society is always rewarding. Be it underprivileged children, women or underprivileged youth, you always feel satisfied and way better at the end. In my journey of 5 years , emerging as a philanthropist, I have always found everything rewarding. If I have ever organized anything for some street children, or orphanages that has left me with eternal satisfaction, the smiles that I brought on children faces always left me full and I felt like “ oh man you have achieved your life purpose”. Likewise being in youth development sector or working for advocacy campaigns for education or political and strategic development and analysis, lead me to feel as if I am really doing something big in single go’s. And obviously it is. I mean organizing seminars and individual counseling sessions of youth regarding their higher education has always left some profound thoughts and prints on my mind. I feel motivated and more confident each time I do something for them. It broadens my views about individual to individual interests and inclinations. Also, training someone about their career motivating those about themselves lead to some really good things. If a person does something in life just because of a common person like me this is more than an award for me. In addition sitting with stakeholders and policy makers, speaking on ongoing dynamics of the country as well as international, enhances my own insight to things and some really noteworthy things are added to the advocacy campaigns that later on are implemented by parliamentarians etc and the nation can move towards something really good. I remember the flaws I put forth to representatives of national assemblies and some civil servants while we were doing an education campaign, were noticed and like in a year span or so they just amended their ways and ordered likewise the education department. Besides let me speak of FATA reforms , the way we youth are at fore front along with other political parties as well as think tanks , can give us a hope for a better future for FATA reforms. These were like few examples and yes there are yet so many.
- What is the most difficult aspect of what you do?
Well, everything takes time. There was a time when we used to wander to get through one particular step even and now by the grace of Almighty we have a team of some 10 very proficient members. Apart from the team being in this sector, the people are also quite helpful and we never stuck for too long at any stage.Besides whatever you do first you need a team with whom you may properly consult such things, then is to design a proper plan to do it and along with the plan you must be aware of any untoward incident that may hinder the plan , so for that you need to have alternate routes. Yes sometimes the resources in the form of money and other things like conveyance etc stand affront but that too is somehow managed although take time. The most difficult thing is anyways, when all of your plans A, B, and C failed and you feel like stepping back. It happened some two times so far and we had to cancel our project.
- Do you think NGO’s have done a good job with development in Pakistan?
NGOs that are properly monitored work a lot for Pakistan. I won’t speak encouraging of those NGOs that provide funds, food packages to individuals as that is something that does not empower them in long term. They stay relied on NGOs and other people forever. The NGOs that work on some bigger things that may contribute to entrepreneurship in the country, that may empower the people economically in long term and that may be money generating for the people are certain things that are noteworthy. In addition, the NGOs that are working on personality building, ending sexual harassment, up against violent extremism and terrorism are definitely contributing enough to the country. Likewise the NGOs working on education, political and strategic advocacy or with advocacy campaigns to end gender inequity are contributing in real sense.
- How do you think our NGO culture can be improved, or made more reliable or transparent for society?
Proper monitoring, since the funds most of times are enough. Yes the funds too need not to take much longer that may hinder the process. Secondly the donors must be contacted and informed of the actual situations. Besides networking, partnership and collaborations are must. That is something that will accelerate the developmental process. Youth activism and involvement should be kept in mind since they are more energetic. In addition, the retired ones from government whether civil or military do not need to be appointed, since they occupy people’s space for no reason. And leave young people deprived of jobs and all.
Apart from NGO culture speaking of overall other things relevant to government institutions, keeping the strengthening of democracy in view, the way Pakistan is going may take a bit longer but now you see people are becoming aware of things. Social media is contributing to this factor. People stand for their rights themselves and this is the thing that does not let stakeholders or parliamentarians damage the system. This way of things has led the nation towards more development and transparent way of things. Also youngsters are more passionate for transparency in system, letting them to come on front can surely change things. Renaissance in west took centuries, but I believe in east and particularly in Pakistan the bright future is just at a distance of few decades
- Are there any people that you look up to, or who have you inspired you?
Well, since I’m addicted to reading books since past few years, and then contemplating about people that marked history, definitely leave some good as well bad imprints on one’s mind. No one is perfect you know. People who have tried to build their communities and nations and their streak reached to us definitely inspire us. The reformers that contributed towards betterment of the nations, from prophets to philosophers, scientists to educationists , writers and poets, philanthropists and kings and presidents, that I have gone through in my studies have always inspired me in one or the other way. And that’s the reason the list too does not remain confined to any single person. Prophet (PBUH), Christ, Aristotle, Socrates, Abraham Lincoln, Charles Dickens, Jaun Elia , Ghalib and obviously Edhi sahab are few people that keep inspiring me . Besides, I can never forget to mention my father here, who inspires me every day. My father used to sell cake pieces at the age of 13, 14 at bus stands and his struggle led him to become an educationist, a professor . Amongst the youth , Jalila Haider a feminist friend from Hazara community and Shawana are amongst my inspirations that stay up always against human rights violations and any sort of brutality. Besides, other friends of mine, Raj Kumar from Thar and Shafeeq Gigyani from Peshawar , ( both of them are activists and entrepreneurs) are the ones that inspire me every day with their endless passion for resolving issues in the society.
- Would you say that the infrastructure is mismanaged?
The private sector is still better. Since I had been working on advocacy, political as well as educational, government sector is still lagging in it to a greater extent. The corrupt mafia, in one or the other form, just kills the time in its offices. And this is because of the lack in monitoring system. But as I earlier mentioned if we want to take things in a better way in a democratic system we will have to face such hurdles that may take time to mend. Most of people simply shift towards a dictated government system which I believe is wrong and deterring. These shortcomings will be eliminated with passage of time when people speak for their rights. Now you see how RTI (right to information) and complaint cells are working, that are an indication of a bright future.
- In your opinion what are some issues that we as a society, should be vigilant about?
As a society first of all we need to be concentrate on our literacy rate. Once you, in the current age are somehow educated you can think about other issues. As a nation we need to be more concerned about terrorism and violent extremism, focusing on the reasons behind and how to counter them. Public as a whole needs to stand against, perpetrating from time to time. If some people die in one corner of the nation it is not unimaginable that you may be killed the same way at hands of terrorism tomorrow. Then I believe we need to ponder over domestic issues more of the sort of domestic violence, gender discrimination and women rights. Women must not be taken as simply a repository or commodity and that people must come up with providing them with equal rights. In addition, our people lack the courage to tolerate. Our people lack tolerance. I’m speaking of religious extremism that needs to be stopped as the heritage of Pakistan had centuries back, the mystics from different religions that tried to unite people in diversity and preferred similarities amongst each other than to go for differences. They in this way actually worked for prevailing peace in their communities.
- Why is the common man so passive about the problems around him?
We are also common. It is just that we want an ease for ourselves including others by mending the system. If you ask me that what would I speak of myself as a common man if I didn’t think of issues going around me, my answer would be quite short and simple that is our economic instability. We from the day first try more to feed our stomachs first and then go for rest of things. Then we get addicted to feeding and this feeding thing transforms into luxuries. I believe if the state here take so much tax , it must be able to provide shelter food and education to each and every individual till a particular age. And let people likewise to further empower themselves. Countries in the west and some in the east have invaded it. They first provide people with basic rights and then let them further empower themselves and others through entrepreneurship or more struggle in the form of their jobs. That’s why they can easily work on implementation of all the creative ideas pitching in their minds. Look we need to mingle the aspects from socialism and capitalism both I believe, since none of them alone can work for the development of the nation
- You study literature and linguistics; do you feel as if the indulgence in literature has made you more sensitive and compassionate towards society, and its problems?
Literature, aah , Literature is love you know. Indulgence in literature has in fact increased my sensitivities towards aspects of life. It has no doubt made me more sensitive towards so many things. And that’s what makes most literary people different from a majority. In addition, literary ones are more non-conformists. They are reluctant to flow with the flow. Literature has increased my analysis of problems going on in the society. It has helped me plunge into things that are not easily evaluated by rest of people. I feel my evaluation of things; problems and their analysis and finding their better solutions have been comparatively enhanced. It has given me no doubt a better insight to human existence, the spiritual love and so many other things. In addition, it has helped me to analyze different religious, inter-religious affairs for harmony and peace in addition to critical evaluation of national and international affairs, since there are so many things related to history.
- You write for several blogs and newspapers, what do you normally write about?
Well, I used to write majorly on national political rifts and issues. Among these include an “Insight into Pakistan’s federal budget”, “The facts unveiled” that covers impishness of political representatives in addition to benightedness of our government employees. I have written blogs regarding Donald Trump and his policies effect on Pakistan. Apart from this I have written blogs on some social issues such as transgender rights, child labor, media role in peace and hegemony and how they have been lagging to build it. Also my blogs mostly comprise my own poetry
- You have most recently been working on a project called ‘MothiMitti’, tell us about it?
Well “Mothi Mittti Mein” is a project we recently initiated back in July with an aim to empower some 500 individuals. The project comprises three phases. i.e: underprivileged children, women and youth. In the project, we aim at providing these underprivileged individuals with some training on basic life skills and self acknowledgment. Along with that we do some refreshing activities, more of motivational and confidence building kind. In addition we provide the individuals with some support in the form of stationery, books etc.
- How has it gone so far?
Well so far we are done with empowering some 300 individuals that include women and children. Both of our phases have been successful. Let’s hope for the last one, may this one too go in a better way.
- How can someone extend a hand of help regarding your project?
Well as far as Mothi Mitti mein is concerned, you can help in any possible way. It may be individual donations or collaboration for a joint venture. Even if there is nothing available or they cannot manage, they can simply spend some time with them on event day or sort of volunteers
- Thank you for being with us Imad, what message would you like to leave with your readers?
Thank you so much; I m delighted to be with Self Projections.Well for youth, my message is , add something to people’s lives every day, be it in any way you can. Never be afraid of criticism, accept learn and move ahead with your own ideas and thoughts.