Tag Archives: Social Change

Engro Corporation — I Am The Change

“Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves” (Quraan 13:11)

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Many of us are prone to complain and moan; about how our country is going in the doldrums the government is corrupt and inefficient, the people are uneducated, the roads are filthy, there is poverty all around, etc. However, very few realize that the change that they are seeking will come from none but themselves. Luckily for Pakistan there are many who decided to stop complaining and become agents of change.

In 2012, Engro Corporation launched a small initiative to recognize these true stalwarts of society who have worked tirelessly to improve access to education, health-care and livelihoods for Pakistan’s poorest of the poor.The initiative aims to collaborate with the corporate and the philanthropic sector of the country and help individuals and institutions who are pioneering initiatives to improve lives across the spheres of Livelihoods, Education and Health.

I Am The Change (IATC) celebrates those who decided it wasn’t enough to moan and groan but to start the rebuilding of our nation one brick at a time. These heroes would have served their causes without fame and recognition but to magnify these causes we need to highlight them, to support them, and to spread their deeds far and wide.

I had the opportunity to meet some of these heroes last year during a bloggers meet that Engro organized at T2F. This year, I was invited to the awards ceremony by Xenith Public Relations, along with very limited people from the Social Media community. I wish there had been more of Social Media representation at the dinner who could have spread the word far and wide through our collective ‘pens’.

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The event was an extravagant affair, some may even call it a bit over-indulgent. However, as a Trustee of a charitable trust (Ihsaas Trust), I understand to some extent why Engro wanted to splurge on it. The ugly truth is that money attracts money. The dinner was for the high and mighty of society, a bid to attract them and to get them to fill out pledge forms to support this cause of highlighting the heroes of society. And sadly those type of people don’t show up to eat daal chawal outside your local masjid. However, I still think the event could have been equally grand with a little less spent on decor, food and ‘shashkay’. For 10% saved off the cost of the event, we could change several lives at Ihsaas Trust or any of the IATC award winners.

This year’s recipients included the Azat Foundation in the category of education, working to provide education and youth empowerment opportunities to individuals from various areas of Baluchistan including Noshki, Kharan, Awaraan amongst others.

In the category of Livelihoods, the award was given to Orangi Pilot Project that continues to focus on urban development and works with the underprivileged in the arena of micro-finance and micro-enterprises, helping set up small businesses such as embroidery, footwear manufacturing and other small cottage industries reaching out to over 100,000 individuals through various projects. The winner in the category of Health was Child Life Foundation (CLF) — an NGO providing comprehensive child health care services from emergency care to prevention. CLF provides free medicines, essential oxygen systems, medical monitors and most importantly trains doctors and nurses to help save the lives of children at imminent risk reaching out to approximately 800 child-patients every day.

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Previous winners of the IATC Awards in the various categories include organizations such as The Dream Foundation; The Garage School; Patients Welfare Association; Karachi Vocational & Training Centre; Child Aid Association; KhwendoKor (Peshawar); Akhuwat (Lahore).

CEVMK8yVAAAU1oTSpeaking at the occasion, Ali Ansari – outgoing President & CEO, Engro Corporation said, “We strongly believe in empowerment of communities by highlighting change agents who are working in high-impact areas such as education, health and livelihoods. Pakistan has a growing young population which will be in need of job opportunities. Coupled with the fact that half of the country cannot read or write and up to 25 million children not having access to school, the country is faced with an education, health and livelihood emergency. In this scenario it is imperative that we join hands to empower agents of change who are working to improve these social issues – IATC is a partnership platform that creates awareness and provides recognition to the unsung heroes from across Pakistan in order to support and multiply their efforts.”

The IATC platform also announced a major development in terms of cross partnerships with different corporate organizations of Pakistan which included Coca-Cola, Mitsubishi Corporation, National Foods, K-Electric amongst others. The winners of the competition were selected based on the scope of their social work; level of impact, number of beneficiaries and the ability to replicate the program amongst other key considerations.The IATC award entails a financial grant along with aiding the NGO in terms of its capacity & organizational development whilst also ensuring employee volunteerism activities.

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The evening included Ayesha Tammy Haq moderating a panel discussion with Ali Ansari and representatives from the corporate sponsors: Abrar Hassan from National Foods Limited, Kimihide Ando from Mitsubishi, and Zohair Sharif from Asiatic Public Relations representing Coca-Cola.

The one message that I found very useful from Ali Ansari’s speech was:

Corporations have slowly now realized that one solution that the world is looking for is Social Change. And that CSR is not just about lip service and throwing money at causes, but getting involved and really fostering change. Engro Corporation is on the right path with the I Am Change initiative. Let’s hope that more and more corporates join in to spark off a domino effect.

PKFLOODS 2010 – Feeding Flood Victims, Ending Blood Feuds

Received this as an email from a friend. Very inspiring to see such Positive Change.

 


Mujahid Hussain is an accounts officer at TCF Secondary School-Shirin Sultan Dossa Campus VI at Yousuf Goth, Karachi. He belongs to Kalhoro Tribe. This tribe had a dispute with Channa tribe since the past four years. The dispute erupted when Mujahid Hussain’s brother-in-law was shot dead by a member of the Channa tribe on 17th February 2007. From then onwards, it was the sordid tale of one murder after the other.

Mujahid, like numerous other people from both sides, were sickened by this seemingly unending blood sport but didn’t quite know how to best tackle the situation. This year when their village was devastated by the floods, Mujahid was bestowed with an opportunity to make a difference!

In 2005, TCF went into earthquake relief because of the magnitude of the catastrophe. The human impact of this flood exceeded that of the earthquake and as an involved and committed part of society and of the areas where TCF schools exists, TCF team decided to contribute. For displaced brethren, TCF decided to provide food packages and water purifying packs. The team set itself a target of distributing 100,000 ration packs – one pack per family of five-six members (about 20 million meals) during the Holy month of Ramadan. TCF Team also reached Mujahid’s village. There are moments when the Almighty makes someone the source of change – God bestowed TCF Team with the great privilege to be the source to bring about a positive change. Mujahid got hold of ration packs and personally supervised its distributions at 1,300 homes of the feuding Channa tribe.

This gesture was enough to mend hearts and alter mindsets. Channa and Kalhoro tribes ended their disputes then and there. The people became one.

TCF takes pride at its team members like Mujahid Hussain who are truly Agents of Positive Change!


The Citizens Foundation (TCF) is a not-for-profit organization that has been working since 1995 to help raise the literacy level of Pakistan. They have done great work and are running 600 plus purpose-built schools all over the country. Run in an extremely professional manner, this organization has some great people associated with it and are working in creating Positive Change in Pakistan.

Wedding Timings Limitations – Excellent Move

Upon our return from Hajj, the wife and I found ourselves smack in the middle of wedding season. Usually wedding season is a hectic time of the year with food being consumed well past the witching hour and a cause of sleep deprivation for all. returning from weddings past 1 am or so, trying to digest the heavy food, and getting to sleep a few hours prior to starting a new day with bleary eyes and severe indigestion.

A day after our arrival we arrived at a friend’s valima around 11.15 pm, a decent time for Karachi weddings. To our surprise guests were heading out and the groom was just polishing off his plate of food. It seems that Hajj created a change for society and not just us. Whomever came up with the new rule of lights off at midnight has to be awarded a Nishan-e-Imtiaz for his/her excellent service to the Pakistani society. Kudos to such progressive thinking. It was so great to be able to return home around midnight from weddings this entire week!

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Where Does Our Responsibility Lie?

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Guest Post by
Afnan Ahmed

Afnan Ahmed
Afnan Ahmed

We all are well aware of the critical situation our beloved country, Pakistan is facing. Every other day there are rumors that Pakistan will not survive in future. The country behind all of this is none other than our neighbor, India. Our government still insists that Indians have no such intentions; however, we all know very well that India was never our friend and never will be. Pakistan was created after partitioning the sub-continent, that is, India who opposed the partition till the end when it seemed an inevitable event. We all are acquainted with the bloody trail that links our independence.

A person, who leaves his house nowadays to go to work, does not know if he will return to his family. Suicide bombers haunt our lives day and night. We are torn between who to believe and where to go. We don’t know what we are going to give to the next generation that is yet to come. Political uncertainty for the past few years has ruined our day to day lives.

Now the questions arise: What are we to do in the present circumstances? Where does our responsibility lie? Are we to sit hand-on-hand and curse our government of their policies or shall we do something constructive of our own in order to make a difference?

I believe that we, the youth of Pakistan have a huge responsibility on our shoulders. The future of our country lies in our hands. Most will be keen to let Pakistan go into turmoil, saying what Pakistan has given them, however, I believe that what we are today, we are because of Pakistan. Even if we go abroad and settle there, we will always be Pakistani. Pakistan has given us what no other country could give us, that is, an identity. What I mean to say is that how can we neglect the sacrifices that were made by our elders to give us a free land to live.

We all are quite impressed by the Europeans and Indians. We all like to watch their movies, that’s fair enough but we should not forget our true identity. We should keep in mind that rather than cursing our government we need to make a difference ourselves. We are always condemning what we see around us that is: illiteracy, terrorism, litter (garbage) etc; yet we do not think about doing something our self. I know we cannot do anything about terrorism except praying but what we can do is that we can teach our servant’s children to read and write and we can stop throwing litter on the roads. Although we can not bring a subsequent change, we can teach our younger generation so that a well-civilized society could be established in a not too distant future. We can create awareness among others to be conservative and less wasteful.

The load-shedding is another concern as it has developed into a threat; however most of us point our fingers at the government and the KESC rather than conserving electricity ourselves. We need to stop stealing and wasting electricity if we want to see this issue resolved. It’s very easy to complain about others but it’s very difficult to correct ourselves. The traffic signal has become another issue nowadays as mostly people derive others of their right at the signal. The majority of accidents that occur these days are due to overlooking the traffic rules and being ignorant. At this issue even, we accuse the government nevertheless the fault is ours and only we can rectify this issue.

Afnan Ahmed is a 16 year-old resident of Karachi, who recently completed his O-Levels from the Beaconhouse School System. He is also a former participant in the Active Saturdays program. He believes if we do not stand up for this cause right now, then we might never be able to see Pakistan as we want it. It is his hope that it will create awareness among our youth and drive them in making Pakistan, a better place to live. Please remember him in your prayers.

 

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This year on Pakistan’s Independence, mend some Broken Windows

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August 14, 2009: Pakistan turns 62, and the Blaagers (name given to Paki bloggers) celebrate by Going Green and Trending #Pakistan on the Twitter Trends (similar to when we trended #PakCricket and Twitter was a Sea of Green). And while I was among those involved in this effort and fully supporting it these past days, a strange void was felt inside. A nagging thought that maybe Going Green and making it to the Trending Topics were feel good measures; a sense of Patriotism that rises up at occasions like this and then conveniently is put in storage for the next appropriate Pakistan Pride moment. We owe it to Pakistan to move beyond just superficial lip service to the ideals of Jinnah and our founding fathers. We must do something to stall the downward spiral we see our beloved country in.

I just finished reading The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell recently and one particular discussion in the book stuck with me: The Broken Windows theory. This thesis put forward by James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling in 1982 and further discussed by Kelling in his book Fixing Broken Windows: Restoring Order and Reducing Crime in Our Communities gives us a great insight on the problems Pakistan faces right now. We have essentially become a community where there are too many Broken Windows.

So just what is this theory?

Consider a building with a few broken windows. If the windows are not repaired, the tendency is for vandals to break a few more windows. Eventually, they may even break into the building, and if it’s unoccupied, perhaps become squatters or light fires inside.

Or consider a sidewalk. Some litter accumulates. Soon, more litter accumulates. Eventually, people even start leaving bags of trash from take-out restaurants there or breaking into cars.

Basically, the premise is that a Broken Window sends a negative signal and people start slowly treating the area around this Broken Window as rundown and derelict. The idea is that if you want to make a big change sometimes the best thing is to change seemingly trivial things. As these trivialities add up we reach a tipping point, and soon we know it the area is no more what it used to be.

Building Up Pakistan

So just what am I talking about? What windows are we breaking? Whether it is that 50 rupee note you slipped the policeman to avoid a ticket for talking on the cell while driving, or the fact that you just flaunted every traffic law that exists while driving an unregistered car without a driver’s licence. Or it is that empty Coke bottle you just threw from the car’s tinted windows.

Patriotism is not just about the paper flags you have decorated your street with, it is also about taking those flags down once the celebration is over. It is not about the huge flag on top of your house, it is also about removing that illegal and unislamic Kunda your house is running on. It is not about blaring National Anthems from your car stereo, it is about respecting the traffic laws as you do so. It is not just about being enraged at the disappearance of the Quaid’s photo from the President’s House, it is about living the ideals of the Quaid.

This year, on this Independence Day, let us resolve that we the Citizens of Pakistan will not shed our Patriotism when the clock strikes midnight. We will instead mend Broken Windows, clean up our mess, and implement the dreams and ideals on which Pakistan was founded on. And as pane after pane is fixed, we will Insha’Allah soon see Pakistan become Evergreen.

“It ain’t easy being Green” – Kermit The Frog

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