By Wajiha Hyder
Saving the country, one natural disaster at a time.
To help and serve oneâ€™s country and that too without the expectation of any possible reward is an enormous mission to take on, but the Pakistan Youth Alliance has managed to achieve exactly that in a way thatâ€™s nothing short of being highly commendable. Since its inception, this brilliant group of twenty somethings led by Syed Ali Abbas Zaidi, has managed to inspire and engage the youth of Pakistan in doing hands-on, practical, substantial things for their country.
Founded in 2007, PYAâ€™s major aim is to steer the youth of Pakistan towards a more positive direction, to wake them up from their apathetic slumber. Their mission involves standing up against the innumerable social evils which have plagued their society practically since its formation; and effectively raising a voice against them.
But this achievement wasnâ€™t accomplished overnight; many sacrifices were made to achieve the respect, trust and success that they have today. As Mr. Zaidi put it, â€œWhen we started this back in 2007, we faced relentless pressures from people in influential positions. God knows, our families werenâ€™t very supportive since this was a relatively novel concept; it was a turbulent start, but our spirits remained high nonetheless!â€
But sooner rather than later, things began to look much brighter. From collecting funds for the rebuilding of schools in Swat to making an active effort for the floods that have desecrated the countryâ€™s agricultural stability, the Pakistan Youth Alliance has come a long way from its humble beginnings. To date, the group has been responsible for successfully organizing approximately 120 events across the globe.
â€œRight now we have a wide-ranged, multi-faceted agenda on our hand, which involves the launch of a slum-school and a library in Islamabad, suitable education facilities for young adolescents, flood relief campaigns, a Tour De Pakistan documentary, environmental issues awareness and plastic bags substitution campaigns, etc.,â€ says Mr. Zaidi.Â â€œPresently however, our major focus remains on the flood relief campaign which we are managing with immense fervor. But whatâ€™s been heartening is the massive response by the youth.â€
Through their efforts, they have effectively reached some 6000 families and at the time of writing, have been able to raise approximately Rs 7 Million in a little under three weeks.
The current floods in Pakistan have shaken the very foundations of the countryâ€™s already feeble infrastructure and have been a disaster on multiple levels. The UN has already declared the situation to be far larger than the 2004 Asian tsunami, the 2005 Pakistan earthquake and the Haiti earthquake combined.
â€œTill now we have made some 13 deliveries from KPK to South Punjab and weâ€™ve seen nothing but hopelessness, despair, cries and complaints. People are fighting with each other to grab eatables for their loved ones; thereâ€™s complete chaos there. Itâ€™s undoubtedly the biggest humanitarian disaster we have ever faced or will, in quite some time,â€ Mr Zaidi observes.
â€œI would request everyone to please visit a few affected areas before drawing any conclusions, since itâ€™s only when you interact with the locals that you get the real feel of things. We need to own this disaster. We need to own the chaos. These 20 million Pakistanis are anxiously awaiting our generosity,â€ he further adds.
Young people who want to actively join hands with the PYA can do so quite conveniently, as explained by Mr Zaidi, â€œBeing a youth-centric volunteer organization mainly, youth from different parts of Pakistan and even those who live abroad, but who want to make a difference can join in on any of the initiatives we have undertaken thus far. All updates are emailed, texted and distributed through our Facebook fanpage and group, where contact numbers and email addresses of all local representatives are listed.â€
Readers of TMS will find a helpful platform in PYA, as will other writers, poets and artists, providing them with an outlet to start appropriate discussions about the burning issues affecting their country. All thatâ€™s required is for readers of this article to submit their work to the Alliance and their team will take it from there.
As Mr. Zaidi quite aptly puts it, â€œWorking when thereâ€™s work that needs to be done helps to a great extent. We aim to have a 10 crore strong army of pro-active youth; of workers, of volunteers whoâ€™re ready to help solve the internal problems first. We aspire to pick up from where the Quaid left off and eventually build the envisioned Pakistanâ€.
And isnâ€™t it time that we owned the problems that run rampant in our neighborhoods, society and cities? To see every problem as an opportunity? To look for their solutions? We canâ€™t wait for angels to descend from the heavens to alter the state of affairs in the Land of the Pure.
Because theyâ€™re not coming.
An accountant, a self confessed day dreamer and an eternal foodie, Wajiha Hyder has spent most of her life being excessively blithe and â€œhappy-go-luckyâ€. Since she hasnâ€™t been castigated for it yet, she plans to soldier on! Her first love remains writing, which she does quite fervently on her blog.