It’s amazing how a Person with a mere Camera came from Thousands of Miles away and shake world’s Opinion aboutPakistan…
Thank You Brandon & HONY!
Social media has such Power that can change even consolidated opinions. It was a real surprise when I came to know about a foreigner running Facebook page Humans of New York (HONY) coming to Pakistan and sharing stories of common people. “Ahh he chose Pakistan as one of the two summer outing destination, that’s seems so unreal yet Cool Man”this was my initial thought and I started following his daily posts from beloved country. And Yes it was worth it; as good as witnessing some sort of fairy tale. Desperately waiting for the next story and trying to read as much comments as possible. Perhaps the first time I saw such an overwhelming response and interest from Global audience towards Pakistan.
HONY started it’s visit from the north covering parts of Gilgit Baltistan and then showed us stories of Humans of Karachiby finally ending in Lahore Lahore Aaay…All stories were so Inspiring, Powerful and Captivating.
When we talk about a general perspective of Pakistan; Terrorism, Human rights violations, Deprived Females, Intolerant Male dominant society and Fear factor are the things we can imagine off. But HONY showed against all odds that:
We have such admiring couples and respectful Husbands as well:
“He’s a very respectful husband. He’s different from a lot of the men in this region. He never stops me from voicing my opinions. And if he ever notices me walking down the road, there’s always hot tea and apricot cake waiting when I arrive.”
HONY showed the world how strong our family system is:
“We lost their mother to a heart attack recently. And their father is overseas trying to find a job. So I’m currently Grandpa, Grandma, Mom, and Dad. Luckily I have five children and eighteen grandchildren, so I’m very experienced. There’s actually one more child at home—he’s eight years old. And none of them can fall asleep unless they are lying next to me. So I have to put the oldest one to sleep first. Then I get up quietly, and lie down between the other two. The only problem is sometimes they fall asleep on top of me.”
There was a time (or perhaps even now up to some extent) when anything wrong happening around the world was somehow associated with so called sneaky, greedy and extremist Pakistanis. HONY showed the Pakistani also can suffer with ironies of life; a Pakistani may well be a deprived one.
“I tried to travel to a school for the blind in India. When I got off the train, a man offered to polish my boots at the railway station. He was very nice to me. When he heard where I was going, he offered to take me there. Along the way, we stopped to take a dip in a stream. When I got out of the water, he had disappeared. He’d taken everything. I started screaming and crying. I heard some kids in the distance, so I tried to walk toward them, but it was hilly and thorny, and I kept falling down. When I finally reached them, they didn’t understand Urdu. But they took me to some men who helped me. ‘You’re lucky,’ they told me. ‘We find a lot of dead bodies in that stream.'”
Extreme display of love and sacrifice contained within our society was shown by the following story. This is definitely one of the most inspiring things I have ever read…
“Shortly after we were married, I got tuberculosis and rashes broke out all over my body. They smelled so bad that I had to be cleaned three times a day. She always made me fresh food and made sure I had clean clothes every time I bathed. One morning, during this time, she asked me: ‘Would you do the same if I got sick?’ I promised her: ‘I’ll do even more.’ She died a few years ago from a brain tumor. She was in bed for the last three years of her life. Toward the end, she couldn’t identify people. Water from her brain would drain from her eyes. I ran home from the shop three times a day to help her go to the bathroom. I was always sure to turn her. She never had a single bedsore. In the end, the doctor told me: ‘It would not have been possible to take better care of her.'”
Our unmatched, Unconventional yet committed economic and moral support system was shown to the world where Pakistanis hold hands of their countrymen passing through trying times.
“I’m trying to help her figure out her future. I was working at the Sunday market, and she asked me for help setting up a stand of her own. She told me about her story and showed me her bruises and marks. I’m trying to help her all I can, but my means are limited. My own income is only 2500 rupees a week and I’m getting engaged next week. I’m trying to set up a committee to donate blood because she really needs it.” (2/2)
Apart from above there were many stories showing Human emotions related to friendship, desire, love, etiquettes, tragedy & Regrets. It proved that people all over the world have similar attitudes & feelings; humans are made of sensitive Flesh and blood…
The end of HONY trip to Pakistan was as perfect as it could be. Highlighting the forgotten issue of bonded labors working in brick kilns. Syeda Ghulam Fatima working to savor these labors has acclaimed Global recognition as HONY departed Pakistan with a 2 Million dollars plus gift for helping the cause. I pray to Allah that this money is well spent to boost us even more.
I want to conclude the Pakistan series by spotlighting a very special change agent who is working to eradicate one of the nation’s most pressing social ills. Over 20,000 brick kilns operate in Pakistan, supported by millions of workers, and the system is largely underpinned by an extremely close cousin of slavery—bonded labor. Throughout rural Pakistan, illiterate and desperate laborers are tricked into accepting small loans in exchange for agreeing to work at brick kilns for a small period of time. But due to predatory terms, their debt balloons, growing larger as time goes on, with no possibility of repayment, until these laborers are condemned to work for the rest of their lives for no compensation. If the laborer dies, the debt is passed on to his or her children. The practice is illegal. But due to the extreme power and wealth of brick kiln owners, the law is often unenforced in rural areas. It is estimated that well over one million men, women, and children are trapped in this modern feudalist system.
Meet Syeda Ghulam Fatima. Described as a modern day Harriet Tubman, Fatima has devoted her life to ending bonded labor. She has been shot, electrocuted, and beaten numerous times for her activism. Quite literally, she places herself between the workers and their owners. The organization she leads, the Bonded Labour Liberation Front, is small but determined. It is working to set up Freedom Centers throughout rural Pakistan so that every bonded laborer has access to advocacy and legal aid. Fatima operates on a very small budget. So as we learn her story over the next few days, anyone wishing to help empower Fatima can donate to Bonded Labour Liberation Front here:
Hope that this issue is well addressed at all levels to eradicate this modern day slavery!
HONY’s visit to Pakistan has definitely changed opinion of many around the world towards our country. Facebook comments like “I want to visit Pakistan” and “Brandon you have opened our eyes” were quite common throughout the course.
Pakistanis were so excited around the world and was evident from their prevailing commentary. They felt of getting their pride back somehow. As HONY displayed our national colors moving in different parts across the country; we realized how beautiful our people are; we fell in love with each other…
Unlike many other social media discussion forums, we saw a very positive attitude and sense of understanding on HONY’s facebook page. Even people from India were generally appreciative and open hearted while commenting on various stories. It was like a Global team working together for a common cause. Love and Respect!
It is definitely honesty of HONY that is opening the eyes of people towards HUMANS from rest of the world. It’s again proven that somebody has to take an initiative to make things happen.
Few years back I saw cover page of an International magazine showing a scary scene with title as “Pakistan, most dangerous country in the world” and After every foul play by media, I thought when will other side of picture be shown…AND HONY did it; this stands taller then majority of mainstream media…We call it Naseeb (fate), an X person coming from thousands of miles away and creating excitement among millions around the globe with fascinating stories from Pakistan…HATS OFF HONEY!
Although an overall positive and beautiful image of Pakistan was sent; it still remains a fact that our country is not a total heaven. We do have errors to fix, scars to erase BUT we are far better than what has largely been portrayed…We are the most Resilient nation of the world now picking up against all odds…Alhamdulillah
As the tour was being concluded, A Lady from some part of this world commented:
Sarah Bryant I wish I could find an adequate way to apologize for all the ignorant judgments I had previously made against Pakistan. There’s so much I didn’t know. If the rest of the world musters up half as much heart and resilience as the people you’ve shown us, we will find peace.