In today’s society, it is difficult to find someone around us who does not criticize the government, the politicians, and the entire system of Pakistan for the state that it has left the country in, and for its failure to improve the conditions of the country’s populace. And yet, it is difficult to find someone putting in personal effort to contribute to improving the living standards of the people in this country.
Even more so, it is also difficult to not reach the conclusion that follows logically from the prevalent problem:
If your leaders do not want to do anything, why not do it yourself?
This was the realization that drove Saqib Ali Kazmi, a young entrepreneur from Karachi, to set up a social project named “Mera Karachi, Meri Zimaydari” (My Karachi, My Responsibility). He was of the view that:
“Most of us (youth) believe that it’s the sole responsibility of politicians and ruling elites to do something for the country, and tend [sic] to forget individual role. While my brought-up [sic] and surrounding has convinced me that we (the people) can bring about the real change.”
Mera Karachi, Meri Zimaydari is a manifestation of the efforts that Saqib and his friends have put in to improve the availability of clean drinking water and education in Karachi and the rural areas of Sindh.
The group started out small, setting up the Nazar Bhatti and Shahida Mehboob Memorial School in Gharo, a village in rural Sindh. His team manage the complete educational venture, providing free books, uniforms, and linguistic training. Such have been the fruits of this initiative that the children of his school have learnt to speak English more fluently and confidently than their peers in government schools.
Saqib and his team at their school in Gharo, Sindh
Saqib and his team also targeted the lack of clean drinking water in Sindh, a problem that he felt was as important as the lack of schools in those areas. They surveyed the interior parts of the province, and came up with the solution to install hand pumps in strategic areas. Following on from that, they have been able to install more than 300 hand pumps in various areas of Gharo and Thatta, a feat that has made clean drinking water available to thousands of people.
Happy villagers relishing the prospect of clean, drinkable water
Achieving all of this has not been an easy process. Saqib and his team have had to face opposition from leading local politicians, who have gone so far so as to have sent an angry crowd to beat them on one occasion. Despite all of these hurdles, they have persisted in their efforts.
Consequently, with increasing social and financial support from the community around them, Saqib and his team have transformed the fortunes of the village in which they set up their first school. Over 140 children now get free education while the village enjoys free electricity from the solar panels that Saqib and his team have installed.
A New Dawn: Free electricity for the entire village!
The story of Mera Karachi, Meri Zimaydari is a story we all ought to draw inspiration from. It teaches us that each of us has the agency and the power to bring about small changes, small improvements in the lives of our fellow impoverished countrymen. It teaches us that it is possible to bring about change through our own individual actions. It teaches us to come forward and take up initiatives to help improve the lives of people, and with perseverance, see our efforts bear fruit.
In the words of Saqib, himself:
“We all love Pakistan, but we seldom do what we can do for the people around [us]. If society (business people in particular) could do something for their surroundings, we can overcome lots of social and economic problems without any support of the government.”