Stories about NGO’s

Why aren’t there any well-equipped ambulances available in Karachi?

A few years ago, my cousin passed away in Gwadar. His wife had to transport his body from Gwadar to Karachi in a Toyota Hiace because she could not get hold of an ambulance. That memory resurfaced when I heard that ambulance services were unavailable to carry the dead bodies of the martyred cadets in the attack on the Police Training Academy in Quetta. Even if one tries to justify the legitimacy of such issues by claiming that Gwadar and Quetta are ‘remote’ areas, why is there a shortage of ambulances in Karachi and in other developed cities of Pakistan? Apart from the ...

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“We’re begging, it’s not like we’re stealing”

“Even if we’re begging, it’s not as if we’re stealing or looting.” These were the hard hitting words of the signature beggar in my film Beggars of Lahore. The film was shot in the Summer of 2005, initially as part of an MPhil thesis, the interest for which arose out of my hybrid origin as a British Pakistani trying to come to terms with the intense scale of begging within the walled city and cultural hub of Pakistan, that is Lahore. I, too, couldn’t understand why people scorned upon the beggars so much for merely pleading poverty. I later ...

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The children of Mazin Academy need your help – Will you save them?

It was a distress call for the future of the children under his care. “I don’t know what to do to save the school. I think we should post a note on our Facebook page asking for financial help. It seems like I will have to close the school.” This was a call from my brother, a philanthropist by nature, who was always thinking of doing something more than his studies or career for the welfare of people around him. Thirteen-years older than me, I have always seen him helping people, be it relieving the sweeper from hefty interest loans, giving weekly tuitions ...

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Moving on from trauma, moving on from Peshawar

The Taliban’s brutal attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar on December 16, 2014 claimed the lives of over 140 people including 132 children. While hundreds of survivors of this mass shooting need physical rehabilitation resulting from bullet wounds and other physical injuries, the psychological impact of this traumatic event may have a long lasting effect on school children, both in Peshawar and across the nation. It is imperative that the trauma victims must get immediate psychiatric help, and secondary support be provided to children in other parts of the country who, although geographically distant, may still be troubled by this ...

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12 and married

The small private clinic was echoing with mixed voices – those of ear-piercing shrills and loud excitement. Waiting to see my doctor, I realised the commotion in the maternity section with nurses rushing through a storm of women – aunts and grandmothers waiting on news of a baby child. Passing it on as regular routine at the clinic, I was alarmed when the doctor came out scolding the elderly woman in the group who was wailing, claiming the doctor did not do enough to save the child. The doctor told the waiting family, “The poor girl would have died in labour. She was ...

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Landlords in Punjab: “Off with the boy’s arms!”

It’s a small village in Punjab. Two men begin fighting over a few thousand rupees and what seems to be an electricity wire. One of the men has a 10-year-old son who does the unthinkable – he goes to take a bath in the enemy’s tube well. The landlord/owner cannot stand this injustice. He beats the boy and pours hot water on him. The little boy runs and hides in the fields but the landlord seeks him out again. This time, he ties him up with a rope and cuts his arms off with a thresher. Did I just narrate ...

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Stop globetrotting and look towards your IDPs this Eid, Mr Prime Minister

Last year, they were celebrating Eid in the comfort of their respective homes, surrounded by friends and family. This year, they will have to make do with whatever they can in their camps. Last year, they had new clothes to wear and new toys to play with. This year, the children will find themselves lingering around camps, not really sure of what to do. Many might not even be aware that it is Eid. Such is the plight of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) of North Waziristan. Imran Khan announced that he will spend his Eid day with the IDPs. Although this is a great ...

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Beat the price hikes with vegetables of your own

The connection between humans and plants is as sacred as any religion in the world. They are our ‘fellow beings’ and for better productivity, it is important to understand the divine logic behind a human-plant relationship. When proper care, love and affection is extended towards them, they reciprocate the love by giving us fruits, vegetables and flowers. The recent soaring prices of vegetables have raised drastic concerns among the masses. Tomatoes have touched a record high of Rs180 per kilogramme (kg), potatoes for Rs60 per kg and onions for Rs100 per kg. The reasons behind this uncalled for price hike ...

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Parkour boys of Quetta: Fighting fear… like a boss

I didn’t really know what parkour was, until I came across a recent article about some boys from Quetta’s Hazara town who practise this activity. I had come across references to free running (a more acrobatic version of parkour) on television previously, but since I’m the kind of old soul who believes that doing anything which might result in a serious injury is a cry for attention, I never gave it any. It had an aura of belonging to the seedy world of graffiti, tattoos, drugs and gangs and I am, as I mentioned earlier, an old soul. After reading the article and watching ...

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Do you have a toilet in your house?

Almost two and a half billion people in the world do not have toilets in their homes or lack access to proper sanitation facilities. South Asia makes a significant contribution to these staggering numbers – 65% in India, 53% in Pakistan and 45% in Bangladesh. Not only does this result in adverse health-related problems, like malnutrition and diarrhoea, it also severely affects the economy. On an average, countries in South Asia lose 6% of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) because of poor sanitation. Though many people in the region consider this lack of proper washrooms a major problem, it is not the health-related issues that worry them. ...

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