My interaction with the Aman foundation began a few years back when I was attending a TED X conference here in Karachi and they had one of their ambulances standing outside for people to check out. From the outside the yellow ambulance looked a bit bigger than the normal body carrier we see moving around this increasingly violent megapolis and not much else. What really surprised me was what was on the inside. They not only had a properly fitted ambulance but emergency medical aid utility as well as defibrillators and a doctor which rode on every call. I remember stepping away thinking naaah how could an organization maintain a fleet of these things in Pakistan and do it in the long run. My mind calculated the Approximate cost of this life saver and came to the quick cynical solution that this was probably one of five such vehicles operating in Karachi.
The realization on how wrong I was came last January when my father in law fell critically ill and after a few days on the ventilator at one of the posher hospitals in the D.H.A area we decided to move him to Agha Khan. I actually couldn’t believe myself as I dialed 1021 and had an efficient person not just handle my case of Histrionics but get the ambulance to us within a matters of 15 minutes to carry my father in law across Karachi seamlessly. That and the excellent courtesy maintained by both the doctor inside the vehicle and the driver of the ambulance is something I will not soon forget. It was on this day that I found out there are about a 100 such vehicles in operation in Karachi situated at 90 key points and this was how they handled each call.
Sadly my father in law did not make it through his illness. However this was the same year in which I started working with UNWOMEN to run a violence against women campaign called “Tashadud na manzur”. In this campaign as we reached out to 1 million people through social media in a matter of three months. I and my team were besieged by calls from females who did not know where to go when faced with violence. These were people across Pakistan who had no idea whom to contact in the case of an emergency, or simply to find out just what the side effects of the medicine they were about to ingest were. I thought by Tashadud na manzurs end we should launch some kind of a hot line, something staffed by professionals willing to help. I rattled around with that idea in my head for some months before someone put me on to 111-11-9123 or Aman Telehealth.
The same Aman foundation ran this hotline and I started to find out how to get in touch with the people behind these services. When I first visited Aman in Jan 2014, I was completely bowled over. I had expected this to be a small well staffed organization but instead it was a behemoth of good will. I do not know whether they are too humble to tell the world or want to do their work quietly, but this foundation has over the last five years spent in excess of 70 million USD in our country just to help Pakistani’s out. They have not just an amazing ambulance service and a telehealth department which handles 400 calls a day with a team of “live via voice” doctors and nurses as well as trained psychologists, but programs like Teach for Pakistan and the Amantech center which I would like to talk about in some detail in my blogs to come.
Right now I am in the process of arranging an outreach program for this organization and I am doing this because the right knowledge needs to spread to the right people. The knowledge which took me almost a year to understand could save lives and the best way I know how to do that is through social media. In the days to come I will be launching a google form that will enable you to sign up and take a tour of Aman’s facilities, there we will all get not just a briefing but can actually attend some of the activities going on daily as well as getting some CPR training. Perhaps some of us can even get involved with this organization and do something for our city and nation. Like Ahsan Jamil the Ceo of this foundation said to me last week.
“Pakistan is not a poor country its a poorly managed country and together we can work towards taking care of its problems”
Well here is to bringing Aman to Karachi and to our lives!