I still remember it as clear as the morning was on 14th August 2010. That was the day volunteerism was born in me or shall we say kindled, this was also the day me and a few friends set out towards the interior of sindh to help provide relief for flood victims. Before that I was leading the usual city slickers life, never go too far from plumbing I used to say, never be without wifi..how can you do without wifi I used to ask. That day changed me for the rest of my life and I feel today was another day just like that one 3 years ago.
Today I volunteered for the “Rahbar” program at TCF ( The citizens foundation) and attended their first session. Its been an exhilarating journey from Aug 2010 till now and along the way I have had the opportunity to interact with and teach many kids about social media and the tools it has to help any individual grow in a positive manner. Also on this journey I have had the unique opportunity to try to mentor individuals which needed just a helping hand or oft times only a word of encouragement to help them start on their way to success. Playing a very small part in their growth has been a tremendous learning experience for me and inspired me after visiting one of the TCF schools in “Essa ghot” with a rahbar team two weekends ago to actually become part of this gigantic effort.
So the morning began with me trying to locate the TCF facility in “Qayyumabad” I stumbled around a few times at about 9:30 am before I gave them a call and was directed about three feet away from where I was fumbling to a dirt road leading into Akhter colony. One of those small colonies which form the underbelly of the gleaming areas of Karachi and are often passed by without so much as a second look. I arrived and met with volunteers who led me to a classroom where we sat down and began our orientation session. What’s important to note is that “Rahbar” is a group of people which started out a few years ago with just the spirit of ”kuch karna hay” and their first batch was 20 mentors to 37 students. Today that number stands at 2250 Rahbars to 8934 students in a total of 14 cycles. Growing exponentially is not just a word with these guys they are performing it in real time. The second thing I noted was that every one of these volunteers whether its the coordinators or staff or helpers all have that gleam in their eyes, they’ve drunk the Kool aid, they have been there and seen miracles happen in front of their eyes & know the difference they have made. This feeling unknown to many people is the greatest galvanizer and addiction known to man..its what makes you smile at simple things, makes you live more than you ever thought possible and gives you fulfilment..its practically nirvana!
After an organizer had spoken to us in batches of two stressing on what’s needed, patiently answering questions and drumming into us the seriousness of this commitment, we were led to another classroom where we sat down to watch a presentation. After the 20 min video another volunteer spoke to us for about ten minutes and showed us the core values of the “Rahbar” program, the idea of “Soch se taqdeer tak” which would be the cornerstone of our six weeks of mentorships.
The program is going to start in january and we are expected to receive our school allocation at the end of december, where we will then go every saturday and speak to six kids for two hours. Kids who watch people like us on TV but never get the chance to talk to one of us, either through lack of opportunity or intimidation I suppose. They live in their bubble and we live in ours and hardly do the twain cross until someone makes an extra effort. Come january I plan to go and listen to six such kids, to hear what life is like for them and to try to get them to think just a little more, dream just a little more and in doing that raise my own hopes and understanding of what Pakistan is all about. I would like you dear reader to come along with me on this journey through a weekly diary I will maintain to catch a glimpse of what it is to take time out and hear rather than keep running and talking endlessly to be lost in the mindless drone of our ratrace.
P.S – Wanna join up for january? There may still be time