Compassion… Call of the hour

We are all faced with many problems in our daily lives. Those of us with a strong will power continue to fight back and live life while others just spend their time blaming the Superior Being for all the troubles. Troubles are of two types. One you can do something about and the other, beyond your capabilities. It is at this time one has to make a choice. Whether to sit and crib over the problems beyond control while those which are in control continuously grown and become out of control; or focus on the problems which one can do something about, have positive energy and become strong to face those troubles which are beyond control. Those who “live” fall in the second category and those are the people who know the true meaning of life.

Pakistan has been subject to the worst ever natural calamities in the recent past. The overall socio-economical and political volatility has only added to the worsening situation as the historical calamities have left what is believed to be 90 million Pakistanis (a figure estimated by World Food Programme) under direct food security threat.

Certain other shocking figures relating to poor nutrition include 13% wasting among children aged 6 to 59 months with levels of stunning and underweight at 37 and 38% respectively. A third of all child deaths are associated with malnutrition. An estimated 45% of women and 67% of children under five are anaemic. These figures are of a 2001 survey and have shown no sign of improvement. 58% of the population of Pakistan cannot access sufficient food. 23% of these are in hunger. In Thatta, a large part of the population survives on one roti and green chilies for the whole day.

While we raise our voice against drones, innocent killings, Balochistan issue, Hazara Shia Massacre, we must also think what is it that we can actually DO to address a situation. As Mother Teresa once said, “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.”

This Ramadan, in the truest of its spirit, lets join hands with World Food Programme – Pakistan and together let us try and initiate the process of uprooting hunger from our motherland. This Ramadan, let’s remember those who are not as blessed as we are. Remember those who are wasting because of hunger. Donate towards the fight for hunger in Pakistan. While the aim is to reach at least 7.4 million neediest people this year, which may seem an uphill task, let us look at a break down and see how doable it is:

1.It only costs USD 7.32 per child per month to provide them with high energy biscuits and oil. This only helps with their nutrition but also encourages school enrolment and retention.
2.It costs only USD 18.50 per child per month to treat moderate acute malnutrition. In six to eight weeks the child reaches a healthy state.
3.It only costs USD 10.46 per pregnant and lactating woman per month to treat malnutrition. A healthy mother is essential for a healthy family.

So put your best foot forward, this indeed is a great way to achieve that inner peace. No better feeling than being a reason for someone sleeping with a full stomach. Donate generously towards the food baskets being prepared to reach our brethren in need of not necessarily our charity but in need of what has been bestowed upon us over and above our own requirement, as a responsibility for those less fortunate.

For more details, please check Fighting Hunger – an initiative against hunger in Pakistan and for contributions please check details on how to contribute to this noble cause.

Looking forward to a healthier Pakistan. Together we can and we will. For regular updates on the programme, please follow Faisal Kapadia @faisalkapadia on twitter.

My Salute to a Great Young Leader…

Today when we stopped at Global Center, I saw a boy with a piece of white cloth rushing towards the car and had obediently followed the instructions of my friend Muzammil to clean the car. My heart sunk as I saw the boy who would barely be twelve years old. Few days back, I inspected a government primary school to award financial aid by the Education Department for genius students. He was one of them and refused the nominal fund with honor. “Sir, I have a lot of money to bear my educational expenses”, he replied. I surprisingly recalled his name while I had the snacks but when I asked the nearby minor cleaners about him, as I fully recognized him, they said he ran away after seeing you.

FAROOQ, you are the greatest young leader I have ever seen in my life. You ashamed me of all my complaints that I asked Allah in my testing times. From now on, you are my bright motivation to clamber in life.

And this happened an hour earlier, the very next day I wrote the preceding paragraphs:

I was restless in my office to find out the guy with such self-prestige. An hour ago, I went to his primary school and called him from his class. I took him outside his school’s office and told him that I saw him yesterday. Before I could complete my sentence he said, “Yes, I saw you too at Global sir.”

“But why did you run after seeing me?”, I posed the question that was disturbing me from yesterday. His answer tied my tongue. “I do ‘Ghareebi’ (I am poor) sir and I ran because I was ‘sharminda’ (embarrassed).” I told him after a long pause that I was so glad to see him work to keep the both ends meet of his family and carry his studies at such young age after I came to know that he is the only helping hand of his father who is a cobbler.

I encouraged him to directly ask me whatever problem he faces regarding his studies in his native Balochi language but I was speaking in a startled state as I didn’t know whether I was motivating him or myself. I felt that numbness in me when I would get on the verge to sob.

In centrally Air-Conditioned glamorous atmospheres, we boast about being the potential leaders. At least now I am sure that leaders are those who are onto the thorny path of commitment and dedication right from the word go. I had no courage to offer any financial help from my pocket to this dignified champ. After all, he is the unsung hero and the real ‘Young Leader’.

In Search of Truth…

The inquest of truth, a dilemma faced by every single soul. Life, often spent wandering in search. In search of the truth. In search of a lot more than what meets the eye. In search of the meanings of what is revealed between the lines. In search of the words hidden behind the writing on the wall. In search of the path which leads to salvation. All are nomads on a never-ending journey in search of truth.

I am no one but you. I too, spent a significant part of my life searching. I went to Makkah, the Holy City. I stared at Ka’aba for long, in search. I felt peace. I saw pigeons flying around. I heard the silence tell me of the greatest humans who treaded on those grounds. Each leaving an everlasting impression, as if etching something on my soul. I left the city and I asked myself, have I found what I searched for? Perhaps a little. I went to a Borobudur, one of the most magnificent edifices on the island of Java. The largest Buddhist temple in the world. I felt the wind blow ever so peacefully. The green around that place was life. I could smell the ashes that covered this temple for ages. The wind carried with it stories of centuries from the time of Kingdom of Sailendra. As I left, I once again wondered if I have found what I was looking for. I heard the gong, echoing in the emptiness of the surroundings. With a certain degree of peace, not so complete, I proceeded further. Further, in search. As I moved on, I found myself at the Papal Basilica of Saint Peter in the Vatican. Yet another peaceful experience as the chimes sang to me the sagas from 319 AD as the foundations were laid by Emperor Constantine. The Psalms of David took a part of me on a small journey. A journey through eras. Indeed a travel extraordinaire. I rested a while before stepping out. On the stairs, I stopped momentarily and looked back. Once again, I found myself bewildered as I thought to myself, is this it? I was a little tired and did not realize when I fell asleep on the stairs. I woke up after what seemed like passing of an age. My eyes were shunned as I faced the bright of the sun. It took me a while to figure out that I was at The Belz Great Synagogue in Jerusalem. I sat at a distance watching all persons of different ages wearing Kippas of various designs. I followed one of them inside and once again got lost in search. The silence was deafening. I felt peace, yet again, not to the fullest. I lingered on, aged a bit since I started. With my vision, not so clear anymore and my hearing impaired, I walked along the western coast of Gujrat, India. I finally arrived at the great Somnath Mandir. This great monolith spoke loudly of its resilience as I met with its seventh version after being destroyed six times. I rang the bell and continued my way inward. I sat in the patio for a while and watched a number of people come and go, all sorts of worried, joyous, concerned, calm faces. Each in own world, lost. Spent a day there, listening to bhajans and soothing music. That day also passed as I decided to come back home. Not so satisfied in my search.

On the way back, for some odd reason, after having been to the most pious of places, I felt empty-handed. With my head drooping and my back arched, I kept on walking. Walking home, thinking to myself I gathered momentary peace but nothing to the satisfaction of my soul.

I continued to walk by a river, I was astonished. I heard the water rushing by, in its own world. And I heard the verses of Quran in the rush of water. I stopped, and thought of Ka’aba and asked, why did I not hear the same there. I smiled and I sat on the river bank as Rahman was flowing by right in front of me. As the water wrapped around the rocks, I saw Amida’s Golden Chain being knotted flawlessly, something I could not witness when I was in Borobudur. As the water hit the banks, with each passing gush, I listened carefully. My senses sharpened as I was touched by the sound of the water at the bank. I sat quietly amidst a patch of golden flowers with perfectly arranged five petals each. I, yet again, was amazed to hear the Psalms of David, nothing like I heard at the Papal Basilica of Saint Peter in the Vatican. I sat there in awe, feeling my soul being filled, as I was being absorbed. I moved back a little and looked at the flowers. Intensely, closely. By God, I did not see such Shamus and Chanukkah candles even at the Belz Great Synagogue. Each, ablaze with a blessing of its own. The light of which pierced through every pore of my skin into my being. I pushed myself backwards till my back was resting against a tree. From a distance now, I saw drops of water hit the golden flowers. Each, when hit by a drop of water gushing downstream, would sway back and forth in perfect motion making the most melodious of sounds. I could not help but think of the bells of Somnath Mandir. Why did those bells not ring and sway with such perfection as this?

I smiled. My soul became full. My quest ended. I smiled, from within. Every moment was sinking in and becoming a part of me as I heard the perfection of Aayaas while I became a part of Amida’s Golden Chain as David sang to me while the evening was perfectly lit by the Shamus and the Chanukkah Candles, a melody with the perfect touch of the bells ringing in the air.

I went all over the world to find God and I found the answer to my quest in a place which was not Muslim, Buddhist, Christian, Jewish or Hindu. I found myself. I found God.