Human Development Foundation has taken an initiative during this time of duress by working and helping poverty-stricke
More details on our website.
Human Development Foundation has taken an initiative during this time of duress by working and helping poverty-stricke
More details on our website.
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Splash! Echoed the death of a silent tear. Unheard, by all, and felt, by a few, it resounded with such a crash in the heavens, that they were shaken to the loftiest of their heights. All the angels gathered together, to see what was happening in the realms of men? What is it, which has the power, to have shaken, even the greatest of the heavens? What they beheld dear reader, was the agony of purest love, mingled with the feeble efforts of a shattering innocence, to cling on to its dear life.
Her anguish, silently rolling down her cheeks, she watched the tiny, struggling hands, as the soul, she most recently rose within her, was striving to break free from the chains of death. But all efforts were in vain, for both, the worthy mother, and her noble child were shackled to those 2 demons, hunger, and poverty. Born out of ignorance and destitute, the two fiends consume all those they prey upon. And all the angels wept for the crowned mother and her deceased Prince, and for the idleness of those, who have the power to vanquish such miseries: but do not do so, merely because they are occupied by the affairs of their daily lives, or perhaps they are unaware of such irreplaceable losses.
Dear friends, it is indeed a tale of tears, which is written by deaths of such newborns and their mothers every year. Every year, 400,000 flowers of such innocence, and those worthy women, who are endowed with the divine nobility of motherhood, wither away, even before they have had a chance to breathe in the beauty of each other’s existence. In our own beloved country, Pakistan, 400,000 souls lose the warmth of their lives; to causes that can be prevented, to curable diseases such as pneumonia and diarrhea. About 175,000 of these, is a calamity caused by malnutrition. Is it then, not a duty of ours, who are blessed with the knowledge as well as the means, to lend a helping hand to such mothers and their children? Would it not be a worthwhile enterprise undertaken, to be the cause of a seedling to bloom into a flower of a child’s innocence? Would it not, dear reader, be a heavenly gratification to be the sole of a mother’s survival, and all her smiles; as she beholds the wonders of her child’s tender age to blossom into the vigor of youth and adolescence?, indeed, what an honor would it be, to be the fountain of a life, or lives, to water the happiness of all the joys and pleasures of more than 1 lives! For more than a 90% of this loss can be guarded against; by you, and I, by all of us together.
However, a voice, scattered into many voices, and a passion, discolored by lack of focus, and a unifying platform, does not yield the results, originally conceived. It is to this end, that human development foundation (HDF) has launched a campaign (Umeed Say Aagay, to create a crescendo of all our voices and passions, in a focused and a well-directed movement. It essentially revolves around, educating masses about the hazards of malnutrition in childbearing mothers and their newborns, its prevention by focusing on natural nourishment, training all those admirable individuals who take a part in the child’s birth and nursing, and caretaking of the mother; and above all, it aims at mobilizing government authorities for implementation of already existing policies and to create new ones.
In essence, dear reader, Umeed Say Aagay presents us with an opportunity to become a part of this tale of tears, to play our individual roles under a unified ambition of writing an end to its sorrow and sufferings, and to discover the nobility of our natures by becoming the life and soul of 400,000 mothers and their children. So the choice rests in your hands and in yours alone.
May He, The Most Merciful guide us all in all our endeavours, forgive our idleness, and accept our efforts of making amends; and may He, The Most Loving raise the ranks of all the deceased mother’s, and unite them with their children in the everlasting bliss of His eternal Garden’s, Amen.
Women empowerment entails that all women should be respected, educated, and be able to enjoy the same socio-economic protection as is enjoyed by men. If in any respect a woman is being imposed upon, her dignity is compromised and she thus finds herself a victim of male domination in a world governed by the overbearing and sometimes even downright cruel laws of patriarchy. Consequently, the fundamentals of women empowerment require us all to acknowledge the equality of men and women with regards to their honor and freedom, their duties and their capabilities. As a result, to provide us with an opportunity of expressing this recognition of women’s rights, their significance to the world and the problems they face, through our words and actions, the 8th of March is globally celebrated as the International Day of women.
For centuries these worthy daughters of Eve have been subjected to a treatment, which defiles the sanctity of their person, and is a transgression against our creator, the master of all purity. For it is He, who has blessed every woman the honor of raising a soul within her, it is He who has granted them the strength to lend the sparks of their own agony to kindle the flames of another life, and so it is He who has proclaimed their sanctity by bestowing upon them the privilege of being in part a creator of life. Yet, the rising toll of their rape and harassment, domestic violence and the disfigurement or burning of their person in the name of honor bespeaks the brutality of those who transgress against His decree.
Owing to the inhumanity of their actions, such transgressors lose their discernment of right and wrong, of decent and indecent. And eventually, their disgrace so completely discolors their hearts from humanity that they begin to validate their behavior with the help of cultural and religious values; with the result that their hypocrisy taints even the honor of those who practice the true values of their religion and maintain the actual beauty of their culture, creating a repugnant bitterness in those who are not truly familiar with their beliefs and ways.
However, it should also be acknowledged that women’s oppression has not only plagued the hearts of men. Certain women are also guilty of this hedonistic crime against their own kind. These are the women who are staunch propagators of women’s rights and their freedom but are just as imposing of their beliefs and ideas as the men they so passionately despise. For instance, there are many women in our own beloved Pakistan who are well educated and well-cultured professionals but have not imbibed the western philosophy as their guiding principles. Their pride in their own religion and culture impedes their acceptance as valued members of their own sisterhood. Their parda becomes but-ends of mean jokes. Their preference for not excessively intermingling with the opposite gender invites laughter and ridicule by other so-called modern women. And above all, they are so discouraged by such attitudes that their socio-economic progress is crippled by their disinterestedness in being part of a society who demands from them a disloyalty from themselves, where despite their doctorate degrees and professional competence they are belittled by their own sisters, where only by a mutilation of one’s believes and ideas can one be truly respected.
In all essence, women empowerment should be appreciated in all its aspects and not understood to be a threat to the honor of any man, nor should it be taken as a tool to enforce your own ideas on others. It stands for freedom of choice and should be celebrated as such. For it has risen to remind us of things we are rapidly forgetting, things like the honor of men and the sanctity of women: a loss artistically bemoaned by the poet in the following words.
“The Honor of Men, and the Sanctity of Women
From beyond the valleys of love and hatred, I hear the distant rumble of a gathering storm.
The air is thick with the confusion of a muzzled innocence.
The ground trembles with the thunderous wails of a bridled happiness
And the heavens weep for the death of Adam’s world and the ruin of Eve’s legacy.
From beneath the depths of ocean-like grief and sadness
I hear the weary sighs of a fading honor and the racking sobs of a sinking sanctity; I listen to their silent lament.
For men who have become demons, and for women who have fettered their souls
Cursed by the forgotten truth of faith, respect, and honesty.
O beloved sons of Adam – blinded by desires, consumed by lust.
You prey upon those dignified by the Lord of all dignity, acting as though a minion of His enemy.
You belittle the love of the Most Loving.
You Defy Him Whose Authority is All Commanding.
Take heed! Before His Wrath Overtakes You!
And nothing remains of you but a soul is broken and burning.
Oh dear daughters of Eve – possessed by vanity, lost in the glamours of a false beauty
Forsaken by modesty, you defile your own sanctity
That which was proclaimed by Him who endowed you with beauty, purity, and chastity.
Divinely honored, you yet wish to be demonic as those betrayed by their own folly?
Oh, honoured children of Adam and Eve – your Creator made you His deputy
Yet your hearts betray you, and you wish to flee your own nobility?
Be warned! In the life that never ends you shall answer
For all that you conceive and act upon, in this realm of a fictitious reality.”
In its literal terms, the word rigidity refers to the inflexibility of characters, concepts, and ideas. Generally, however, it implies the highly prejudiced and immovable judgments of people about others to be right or wrong, decent or indecent, on the basis of their gender, the colors of their skin, their ethnicity, race or religion. Such discrimination discolors a character’s ingenuity of thought and action, cripples the growth of its intellect and where it has acquired the position of a socially sanctioned attitude, it deprives that society of its peace and harmony. Zero discrimination Day is globally celebrated to consequently guard us against such rigidity of judgment and the discrimination it incurs.
In addition to its literal definition and the generally prevalent perception, it should also be acknowledged that certain perspectives are required to fully comprehend the inflexibility of thought and action that such a rigidity entails. For instance, most of us do not realize that the Justice and equality we so ardently advocate as the solution for discrimination often ends up making us as rigid in our understanding of others as those we struggle against. In our own beloved Pakistan, for example, since the inception of terrorism and their subsequent adoption of religion to mask their inhumanity, people have started considering beard and hijab as symbols of an individual’s sympathies with terrorism’s barbaric ideology or radical extremism. Thus, many devout Muslims who practice Islam out of their love for their religion and without any malicious intent towards anyone often suffer from a stone-cold disparity of treatment in their institutions and workplaces.
Consequently, such sufferers begin to believe that if such a rigidly disparaging treatment can be expected of people who are educated and claim to be well-versed in affairs of the modern world, then social justice and equality; a world free from the curses of discrimination, is just a utopian dream that is created to pacify the guilty conscience of those who advocate popular beliefs and values, for they themselves are the discriminators who are soiling their own societies. And eventually, they begin to ask themselves if dignity and respect is only a right for the Heralds of popular beliefs and values and doubts if social inclusion is a right or a privilege.
These questions echo the anguish of all those who suffer from such unacknowledged discrimination, and the bitterness of those who keep on enduring its degradation until they lose their faith in the goodness of humanity, and ultimately find their backs broken by the sheer weight of their humiliation. In our zeal to uphold the values of justice and equality and in our overwhelming passion to speak against all kinds of discrimination, we get so fixated upon our own repugnance for rigidity and discrimination that we are the ones who unknowingly make people lose their faith in humanity.
Hence, in conclusion, the evolution of our own reality should not be stilled by limiting ourselves to our own perspectives of things. Let us come forth with the openness to understand the perspectives of all factions of our respective societies. For inequality and discrimination, the rigidity of thoughts and the inflexibility of actions, are not always apparent vices of others but sometimes a subtle plague of our own selves.
In essence, for us to be able to affect any kind of change in this world we need to first identify the extent of our own guilt in the weakening of its morality. Then, through acceptance and the consequent correction of our ways, contribute to its progress. For indeed the future of humanity can only be prosperous if we honestly endeavor to respect and value each other’s differences and recognize the significance of the fact that no matter who or where you are, you and I, all of us together are an indispensable asset to each other; something which John Donne so exquisitely illustrates in the following words:
“No man is an island entire of itself; every man
Is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
Is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
Well as any manner of thy friends or of thine
Own were; any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind.”
The languages we speak are essential carriers of our thoughts and expressions. Consequently, each and every word that we speak is a representative of our civilization. So every language constitutes to be the sole of the civilization it represents; and when it dies, it extinguishes the life of an entire worldview. An entire culture, a diversity of thought and tradition which is unique to its people, a heritage that marks the beauty of a distinctly colorful way of life is buried beneath that all-consuming soil of forgetfulness and is lost forever. Keeping in view the fact that 43% of globally spoken 6000 languages are in danger of such extinction, United Nations educational scientific and cultural organization (UNESCO) has taken the initiative to celebrate every 21st of February as the International Mother language Day.
Every language has specialized terms for different expressions, which are not so readily available in other languages: and thus is established its distinct identity and the identity of its speakers. It is to prevent the loss of such individuality and to protect its subsequent diversity that it has become a necessity to safeguard the survival of these languages. According to UNESCO’s report, every 2 weeks we sustain the loss of a language and with it the loss of a cultural and an intellectual legacy. While these languages are fading into nonexistence, the threat to linguistic diversity is rising to an alarming height, tightening the noose around any cordially respectful and tolerant appreciation of the many differences, found among people and their respective cultures alike.
Academically, about 40% of the global population is denied the privilege of being educated in the language they speak and understand according to the findings of UNESCO. So that even if they manage to acquire sufficient education to live their lives respectfully, they are unable to grasp the originality of their learning due to the lack of intimacy with regards to the thoughts and expressions they study, in the prescribed language of their education. Nevertheless, successful efforts have been made to adopt curriculums that are based on the student’s mother language: and as a result, the awareness of its significance in one’s private as well as public life is growing, may it be with a funeral slowness. For the sad truth is that most of us do not consider our mother languages important enough to be preserved and sustained with a steadily increasing rapidity of interest and progress.
Take, for instance, the Barohi language which is 1 of the 27 endangered languages of Pakistan. The name Barohi means mountain dwellers and it refers to nomadic people. Their cultural heritage is essentially oral and tradition and consists of traditional music songs and dances. Professional minstrels, who sing these songs and play the Barohi traditional instruments are called Dombes, and hold a significant place in every tribe. Just as they have a name of their own for their musicians, the instruments played by these worthy individuals are also unique in their names and nature’. “ the rabab (an Afghan stringed instrument plucked with a piece of wood), the siroz (a stringed instrument played with a bow), and the punzik (a reed instrument). These have replaced the dambura (a three-stringed instrument played with the fingers) which is found in the more isolated areas”. The names of their cuisine, their distinctly rich customs and rituals and most importantly, the individuality of their identity is threatened by the extinction of their admirable language.
Likewise, there are untold cultures, which are in need of our attention and concern for their preservation. In this regard, the Pakistan Academy of Letters (PLA) has endeavored to make considerable efforts by conducting awareness seminars and adopting other mediums of communication to spread the urgency and the significance of saving all these languages, and by doing so, their respective cultures. It then becomes obligatory on all of us to play our parts in preserving these languages by accustoming ourselves with the beauty of our mother languages, and by encouraging others to do the same.
Every human born is woven into the fabric of their respective societies from the time of their birth till the time of their death. Our social settings play a significant role in modeling our individual potentials for greater good and evil. It then falls upon us to adequately equip ourselves with the understanding of social awareness and constituents of a balanced society, which is based on social justice and equality. It also lies upon us on what exactly is our socio-economic responsibility as individuals, in advancing the cause of humanity. It is to this end, that in December of 2008, the UN made an official declaration for the entire world to celebrate World Day of Social Justice on February 20 of every year.
To begin with, let us first endeavor to understand, why is it so important to acknowledge the celebrations of this day? And what exactly would we achieve in our individual capacity by doing so? To answer this let us just reflect for a moment that if you would wish to live in a world where your mother, wife, sister or daughter are looked down upon, or just considered inferior in any way? Would it be a life worth living, if your handicapped siblings were excluded from the pleasures of a normal life, which you so luxuriously enjoy? And would you, yourself suffer your own identity to be distorted by the rapidly growing globalization, or your fortune to be compromised by an ever-looming threat of your joblessness? If any of these questions are slightly unpleasant to you then you could understand the importance of a Global day like this.
All these behaviors, which question the very humanity of our existence, have plagued our society to a degree where we have begun to accept these undeserving behaviors as common practices of our daily lives. Our women, so superfluously respected in the tales of our past are today subjected to such defilement of their true sanctity that if the beating of their heart had a voice, you would often hear a heart-wrenching lament of physical abuse, domestic violence, and socio-economic discrimination in matters of prestige and privileges. Our trans genders are so disgustingly looked down upon, that their own parents who were supposed to be their epitome of love, affection and support choose to flee before the judgments of society, and abandon their innocent children to rot in a life of deprivation and depravity.
Yet, the pain which pierces my soul the most, with a knife-sharp agony is that of my siblings; those of my worthy brothers and sisters, who like myself are dwellers of the same darkness and live in a world of sounds and shadows. Notwithstanding our qualifications, which are our own tributes to our struggles for normalcy, and testify to the extraordinary efforts of our family and friends, our teachers and fellow students, we are often denied the opportunities to explore our potential as fully functional members of our society; simply because we are afraid to fail in performing our assigned tasks. It is a fear, which stems out of ignorance and unawareness, and is nursed by pride, which sometimes gets compromised when working with a disabled and by prejudice against the abilities of such special, differently able persons.
Here I quote a few instances of my friends who have been unfairly discriminated on the basis of their special needs in a recruitment process for a job. One of my friends, who is a psychiatrist has kept an entire folder of his rejection letters of which were mostly based on his sightlessness. Another occurrence where my friend was openly told that though he has been academically qualified for the job but the Institution was still bound to not hire him, owing to their own reservations about how he would manage to teach his students and chose to reject him on this basis.
It is to address and resolve such countless issues of social injustice that the world social justice day is celebrated. The demands of social justice entail that we begin to acknowledge the significance of every individual’s contribution to making a society. It requires us to uphold its values by doing all that we can, in providing equal opportunities for the intellectual, social, or economic growth of any individual. Whether a special, differently able person, an ill-treated unfairly merited woman, an ignored or an overlooked transgender, an abused child, an elderly, neglected senior citizen, a rejected or despised ethnic or religious minority, all deserve to be treated with respect and valued as an indispensable asset for the progress of our global society. Societal Justice cannot be found in legal courts or political addresses. It is something that falls directly in the jurisdiction of your own heart and soul.
In essence, all of us are bound in a sacred duty towards each other. So let us all take an oath in that most sacred of all courts, called conscience, to re-evaluate our own actions and to redirect them towards maintaining the sanctity of every living person, and to administer this justice in all our circles private and public alike.
A person’s heart is an ocean of memories both bitter and sweet, and of experiences both painful and joyous. An ocean, deeper and greater than any ocean of this world. It is out of these unfathomable depths that whenever a man is in trouble, a voice rises, imploring him to look inside his heart. Where he can always find the light of guidance in the darkest times of his life. Alas! if only we listen to it instead of choosing to be enfolded by the poisonous tentacles of despair and crushing our spirits in this choice. If only we look inside our hearts at such times, we will discover that human hearts are the mirrors that can reflect our past. Whether we are guided by these reflections or lose our selves in them, depends on our own choice.
Seventeen years have elapsed since the time when I first stepped in this world of shadows and sounds. Fifteen years, since fate, sudden as lightning, had snatched my sight from me. Extinguishing all light from my life, making it a never-ending night, an endless shadow, a prison of darkness. However, the interesting thing is that I may have lost my sight but found my vision.
No doubt sun never rises in the dark horizon under which I live, and the stars never shine in the life long night I spend. Yet my heart remains illuminated by the light of faith, by the fire of will, and by the gratitude towards nature for her countless blessings. These are the three elements of my vision. A vision better than most and certainly more powerful than many because now I know how to see through the darkness of despair that often surrounds our hearts.
The light of faith has always guided me when any kind of trouble tried to uproot my stance, and so kept me safe from wandering astray. Likewise, whenever an obstacle comes in my way and tries to barricade a deserving success, I face it with a tireless struggle and eventually burn it to ashes with the fire of will which burns ever so strongly in my spirit. The third and most important element of gratitude was directly taught to me by nature herself.
She taught me that whenever the venomous ingratitude spreads in a person, it often results in the blindness of heart. Blindness worse than mine, because to such hearts the countless blessings of nature appear as their rightful possessions. Hence a day came in my life, when my steps faltered as my efforts were proved, apparently fruitless. I had prepared for my O levels examination of geography, as good as any other student had, perhaps a shade better, but when the results were announced, my grade was lower than most students just because I did poorly on the map work because of my blindness. Thus the fact that my blindness had, for the first time in my life, turned a promised victory into a certain defeat, gave birth to that serpent-like ingratitude which sank its venomous fangs in my heart, and it had two full days to complete its effect on my staunch will. No matter how hard I tried to resist, my strength failed me. Perhaps because I was bitterly disappointed. Nevertheless, whatever the reason, I felt too weary to fight against those vulture-like dark imaginings and was ready to accept the darkness which was to engulf my heart, turning me blind for real. It was then that a voice, tender as my mother’s, and strong as my father’s stopped me and asked me to look deeper inside my heart, before abandoning the path of the courageous. Thus began my inwards journey.
The first thing that I realized was that Mother Nature had hidden a great deal in my sixteen years old heart. I had found myself, looking inside a world of mirrors, both great and small. Some, displaying colorful imagery of long-forgotten days, others were just clear as water but I heard voices, coming out of them. So I examined each and every mirror I could get to, before it vanished, as suddenly as it had come.
The first mirror showed an infant of three or four days, sleeping peacefully in his mother’s arms. The next one had a child of two years old, playing with a stuffed toy and laughing at his own, innocent thoughts. The third mirror projected a five years old boy in an army uniform, standing with his friends and promising each other to become a great army general.
Now, a mixture of fearful anticipation and suspense to know more was brewing up inside me. I wanted to stop, yet wanted to see it all. Thus I looked at the last and the greatest of the colorful mirrors. It displayed a boy of eight years old, holding an oval shaped object and trying to persuade his friends that it’s not a bomb. As he spoke these words, a great blast echoed in the surrounding mountains and a storm of small pebbles and stones hid them from my view. The boy’s screams, my screams, brought an earthquake in my present. So that a flood of despair tried to drown me for good, and reliving the worst moments of my life had left no strength in me to fight against it. Nevertheless the angelic voice again rescued me and encouraged me to listen to those clear mirrors as well. To get the complete picture of my life.
So I listened to the first clear mirror, a gentle and encouraging voice was saying, “careful now. Don’t put much weight on them”. Another voice replied, “Thanks doctor”, and then a joyful and triumphant laughter followed with these words, “I am finally standing on my own two feet after six whole months”. The next one had voices of my sincere friends and a teacher’s voice, announcing that I had managed to achieve fifth position in the class, and a shield as a reward for my hard work. Likewise there were many mirrors with my parents and siblings voices, and many others, which reminded me the countless and priceless blessings of nature. Hence this great realization became an antidote for the poison of ingratitude and rekindled the fire of will which burnt away the feeling of hopelessness and despair from my heart.
What I learnt from my experience in the world of mirrors is that our lives are decorated with the most beautiful flowers of relations. We all know this fact but its true significance is only revealed to him, who walks on the thorny path of pains and difficulties, with courage and determination, and wages a war till death against his own dark imaginings.
Sightless, though the world perceives me to be, and blind, to the beauty of all these colors around me, what it fails to appreciate is, the fact that there are things in life which can only be seen by a vision, not obscured by the illusions of a limited site: and melodies to be enjoyed, which can only be heard by a hearing, not defund by the cacophony of our daily lives. It is with such noble and magnificent gifts that I find my life thus adorned. Nevertheless, it has indeed been a long and arduous journey which led me to the discovery of such profound truths of human nature.
It began some 18 years ago, when a bomb exploded in my hands, plunging me into a world of sounds and shadows. At 1st, I was frightened by so sudden a change: but gradually, as life progressed, its inky blackness acquired a mellow light of its own; and my every achievement became a radiant star, brightening the seemingly never-ending night of my life.
December 6, 2002, was the day when I was born anew into my new and mysterious life. And scarcely a few months had elapsed, when, By the Grace of the Most Gracious and the wisdom of my parents, I got admission as a third-grader in St Mary’s Academy, in September of the next year. There in; I began to explore the countless delights of that tender age, made friends, maintained a noteworthy academic record, and earned a high achiever certificate in Cambridge primary achievement test. 8 years whizzed me by, and after completing my O-levels, I left my school to join Sir-sayid College. There I learned to appreciate the boundaries of different realities, and to pity those enslaved by the limitations of their not so seeing eyes. Nevertheless, my strife and the mercy of The All-Knowing prevailed, and after a hard work of 2 years, I topped my college.
The journey of my self-discovery continued, and then took me to the National University of modern languages, and I, most delightfully lost myself to the pursuit of my passion, English literature. Even so, my friends realized that by merely studying the thoughts of great minds and authors, I was just pacifying my zeal to understand human nature. They advised me to let also the world glimpse the beauty of my life, an existence free from the constraints and barriers of scenes and images, and let others too paint their lives by the colors of my own. Consequently, my friend and I created a blog, namely, Spectrum of colors; with the intent to let everybody appreciate the beauty of their lives and to help them understand that all manners of existence are honored by our creator, have distinctly unique colors which add to the beauty of our own lives and make them worth living.
In essence dear reader, after successfully graduating from NUML, just a month ago, He, The Most Loving yet again blessed me the privilege of joining HDF (Human development foundation), an organization, ardently and devotedly dedicated to the unconditional welfare of humanity. It’s an unwavering commitment to the betterment of humanity’s future heartens me, and inspires me to put in a share of my own contribution to its noble efforts. Thus continues my journey to fathom the mysteries of human nature and to explore the depths of my own. I most fervently pray, May He, the most wise guide us all in our individual journeys, and accept our efforts To Serve Him By Serving His Creation, Amin.