Saturday, 22 December 2012

TCF 6th and Last day - Everlasting Experience

This specific blogpost is dedicated to not just kids in my group but also mentors and coordinators at our Nurpur campus. This entire Rahbar mentorship programme belonged not only to me, my co-mentor or our group 'Sunshine' but others as well because everyone played their part really well. Though the major part of dedication still lies with the kids in my group. Momin Raza, Muhammad Fayyaz, Zeeshan Riaz, Sajawal Latif, Bilal Ali and Aqib are special and they all have a great future ahead of them InshAllah. I do believe they know its only hard work that will pave way for better future and to be honest, hard work is deeply instilled in them. I am sure they shall fight every obstacle out. InshAllah!

As far as mentors and coordinators are concerned then I've to specially thank them because all of them have been a great support over the past 6 weeks. I must mention my co-mentor here as well; Raza Zaidi who has been a brilliant co-mentor and I seriously enjoyed mentoring these kids with him. The guy has his way with the words unlike many and I'm sure kids will learn a lot from him. Maham who's not only a dear friend but coordinator as well have been great throughout as well and along with Ahsan Bhai, another TCF Legend and coordinator as well; have done something amazing and that its really hard for me to put into words. The way these two have coordinated everything from usual sessions to LUMS visit to almost everything,its just beyond me,its just great. They're legends indeed. Tuba, another Legend here has been brilliant and very helpful as well and since she's working for TCF as well then whatever she's and entire administration at TCF's been doing,its just great and looking back at the entire experience I think I will definitely volunteer again. Also Uncle Shaukat and another Omar farooq, two mentors. I must admit I envy them because these two have done a great job, even more so than I did with the kids. From what Ive seen, the kids love them. 

Moving on, I will miss these kids. I seriously will. Over the past 6 weeks, I have grown attached with them. Going to their school in Nurpur every Saturday not only gave me a chance to see how these kids study and work in an environment that is completely different from kids their age back in the city but also taught me deep sense of humility. Everything is new to me and I will cherish each and every second that Ive spent with them.. It was just another day and again we mentors gathered at the campus. Firstly we had to go through the entire recap-session of what we taught the kids in previous kids and we had to do it in a jiffy this time. Gladly everyone of them had remembered about every cycle from 'Soch-sey-Taqdeer-Tak' to 'Victim-creator' cycle. I was glad. Next up were letters that they wrote to themselves about their goals and aspirations and how they can go about achieving them. This was the usual part. The best part was yet to come. YES, THE GIFTS ! We mentors had decided on getting them a gift and that is exactly what we did. We bought interactive atlas and stationary boxes for them. I personally love atlases. I grew up with them so I just knew it what to gift them and I did and the kids loved them. Hopefully they'll brush up their geography skills with these atlases.

Next up was ceremony organized entirely by school administration. Kids had prepared a brilliant skit and it was amazing and darn funny. Not only this we mentors were presented with certificates as well so this was a personal 'YAY' moment for me so 'YAY ME!'. Mentees too were awarded certificates and not only this they even gave us mentors a parting gift as well. It was special. It IS special and I am so happy right now.

What was more astonishing is a fact that even though it was all fun and cheerful but emotional as well. After all this, I saw two young girls from fellow group actually crying for their mentors. Maham was their mentor and seeing all the energy she possess, no wonder the girls were crying and no doubt they will miss her. I had only heard about it but today saw the emotional outcome today as well. It only gives us an idea regarding how we're making difference in their lives. I am not claiming i am making a difference the way others and coordinators have because they've done it way better but personally for me, this entire session was brilliant.

I did learn a lot and hopefully I will volunteer again because its great. Being a university student and part time worker,I took this as an opportunity to get away from usual things but now I think about it, its more than that. Rahbar is indeed about change. Its about a change we're all collectively making. Its NOT a get-away-programme-from-busy-life,its NOT. Its life cycle in itself and I enjoyed every second of my time with kids, mentors and coordinators. Its special.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

TCF 5th Day - Life goals and Career plans

Its been 4 days since the session on 'Life goals and Career plans' with kids. Yes I am late 4 days for this blog but then I was busy with my university but I gotta do this because I have been loving it so far at this current session. This is second last day of entire Rahbar session and I'll miss these kids so much when we're finally done this coming saturday. Moving on, This previous session was about kids having to realize their dreams with respect to their set life and career goals. Okay I must admit that this session was rather tough because everyone like always since generations upon generations had set upon becoming Doctors or Engineers. There was no other option. But I was ready along with my co-mentor Raza Bhai to make sure they look at other professions as well which may turn out to be more successful for them.

Initially we divided kids into two groups in order for them to guess and tell us about all sort of careers and I had to write them one by one on black board. It was fun because at one point they decided to turn the table and make us mentors guess the careers they had in mind. From obvious Doctors, Engineers to careers such as environmentalist, architects, Civil servants, computer engineers etc, these kids definitely had other ideas...except all of them either wanted to be Doctors or Engineers except two kids because one wanted to be mathematician and other Banker. This was almost like a breadth of fresh air for us because mostly no one wants to be a mathematicians because one has got to be  real good at mathematics to be one and this kid 'Zeeshan' was good at it so It was great over all. The other Kid 'Fayyaz' who wanted to become Banker needn't worry as well since my co-mentor Raza Zaidi himself is an investment banker so all sort of questions were thrown at him and guy just knew how to answer.

Moving on we had to discuss about life throwing all sorts of 'Mushkilaat' at us because lets be honest we dont always become what we want or yearned all our lives but the main point is that life eventually goes on and that it is'nt that bad after all. Its a journey and no matter what happens, no matter when ever we stumble we always have plan B's and C's that take care of us and we move on. This is exactly the case with careers because if we dont get to study something because of reasons, we can always look at other professions because other careers are equally great and important as well. Here we reiterated again and again that success will only come when you choose something you like and you enjoy it till the end. Alternative plan regarding career is very important and I think the kids learned it quite well.

In the very last we mentors again had to reiterate a point which correlated along the lines of 'Soch sey Taqdeer tak' cycle except this one was about Life or as milestone puts is 'Recipe of Life'. Here the main emphasis was on them kids being all complete only when they equally take care of their family, community and friends with their career aspirations. 

Again this session was somewhat tough. Its not like I dont want kids to become Doctors and Engineers and InshAllah they will become whatever they yearn but I must reiterate here that they do have an idea about other professions. These kids maybe different from many kids their age group but their dreams equally matter. Can they do it? I believe InshAllah they will :)

Saturday, 1 December 2012

TCF 4th day - Exposure Trip

It's been two weeks since TCF's Hero speaker session which I and kids thoroughly enjoyed and now with Rahbar session in its 4th week, we had another milestone coming up and this one was about Exposure trip. This trip was about encouraging kids about different careers ahead of them. Growing up not many kids gets to know about other careers since almost all of our families expect either us to be Engineers or Doctors and any other profession is mostly a no-go. I was seriously looking forward to this trip and for various number of reasons. Our venue for today is a university we all would love to get into but not all of us *ahem* me *Ahem* can get in. Yes we went to LUMS. This was one trip I'll never forget.

Finally, December is here and Lahore is darn cold so waking up early and this time 'really' early, followed by full on jogging session; isn't really my thing but did it thinking Ive to be fully prepared for this one out. Last time I did this was when we used to play weekly football matches early in the morning so I used to spend an extra running session way early just to get into groove. First all mentors had to gather at Nurpur campus where two transport buses were hired to take us to LUMS. So timing and punctuality was something that was very important because Travelling to Nurpur then LUMS and then back to Nurpur before finally reaching our designated pick points required a lot of patience and perseverance and If we were a lot patient, you should've seen our coordinator today. The man did a great job. First from Nurpur we took kids straight to LUMS where university administration had already made a wonderful arrangement for students to know about their 'National outreach programme' and of course campus visit. The whole NOP session that included a short video sub-session as well was great and this programme outlined everything out to students since this is made for those who cannot afford a university like LUMS. The idea about this university among general populace is that its for elite class but that is not at all the case and these kids who had no idea about a university let alone LUMS, clearly knew now what sort of great future they can possess if they choose to work hard and get here. After the NOP session, we all were shown the entire campus especially the respective academic departments.

I must tell a little instance here which just made my day. There is this kid, Momin in our group 'Sunshine' that in my opinion has that 'spark' in him and even though others are very special and great as well but I seriously believe this kid can actually go forward. Today after the NOP session when we were walking off to dining center, I noticed this kid thinking a lot so I asked what was he thinking. He told me he actually believed he can get in. Though he was quite surprised when I told him I was rejected by LUMS but I tried to tell that no matter what happens, 'hard work' is the only thing that can take him forward so he quickly reaffirmed his point that he can get in and for me that just made my day. Not only this, he was quick to calculate his chances as well considering his 9th board exams are quite near so he believes he's in a position to not just apply but get financial aid as well. The kid maybe quiet but when you start to talk to him, you can see that burning fire, that spark in him and that is great.

 I may not be the best mentor out there since there are many better one's already there making a big difference but seeing just one actually dreaming great things and actually working hard to achieve it, is just great and even though its a wish but I hope it does come true. Not just for one kid but all of them.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

TCF 3rd Day - Hero Speakers

Before I start I must tell this past week was very intense for me and seriously depressing so I was looking forward to new and 3rd day/Milestone of TCF’s Rahbar program. This ‘Milestone’ was about two real life heroes who from very humble beginnings made it big. This day was about their stories and how they dreamed to get education and how education made the difference in their lives. I needed to hear them out; I needed to learn a thing or two because even though I tend to work hard, I give in easily at times too. So this day was not about just the hero speakers and kids but about me and other mentors as well.

Winters have arrived finally and Lahore’s very cold so getting up at 6 am in the morning is the hardest thing for me to do but this was one day where I just had to do it and make it there because I was anxious. It was exactly when I got to Model Town’s TCF office that I met two Hero speakers ‘Zubair Sameer’ and ‘Humaira Sardar’ who made it there courtesy of a friend; Maham as she arranged everything for Nurpur campus. I think around 10 am we were all at Nurpur campus and all groups consisting of kids and mentors now were gathering up at terrace where we were to listen to both Zubair and Humaira, about them, what they do their lives, their humble beginnings and their fights with whatever the life had to throw at them. It was great. It wasn’t just about the kids but about us mentors too.

First it was Zubair Saleem’s turn. Now this guy is from Kasur, is 22 year old and just doesn’t share first name with me but age as well so I was looking forward to listen to him. This dude is a hero seriously. He told us how his grandmother was suffering from a disease and how his family had to sell everything in house even the last Television set to take care of entire medical expenses so this guy had to complete his schooling a bit late. He recently completed his FA and got admission in BA so this guy is learning his trade while working for NGO and making difference in and around his community. This guy picked himself from the scratch and made it big.

Next one up was Humaira Sardar who too is from Kasur and like Zubair, she has faced a lot of problems herself and still made it through. Her family couldn’t afford no education so all six siblings had to work with father to make ends meet but she was always adamant that she needs to study in a school so her parents allowed her so not only worked being a child helping her father out but she studied day and day out and now she’s done with her bachelor’s degree and plans to study abroad as well. Her story is more courageous I must say because her father used to taunt her daily as in why was she studying in the first place because she could have easily worked and made money but she fought her father and relatives. She suffered for years and now she has made it. She fought well. The best part was a fact that both hero speakers connected well with the kids and us mentors. I was seriously impressed. 

In the end, this day was special and I needed this motivational uplift myself. I must admit that no matter what I do and how much I try to connect with kids every week, these two did it quite easily because in these two heroes speakers, they saw fighters who fought battles day and day out and never gave up. I don’t know if I can do it but I need to learn a lot from them.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

TCF 2nd Day - Defining Success

It’s been a week since my second day with kids or rather ‘Sunshine’. I was busy this week so couldn’t get a chance to write about it. But the experience so far has been so much overwhelming that I must write about it, it’s been that great. I am new to this ‘mentoring’ experience but so far I believe I’m learning equally like the kids. 

The second session or ‘Milestone’ was divided in three parts or categories; Community visit, Soch Sey Taqdeer Tak cycle and Success & Failure. I must confess one thing that unlike other mentors I did not at all print out or go through the divided milestones as most have done because every Saturday I see most of them going through notes, reading it again and again so that they can share whatever they have in mind with kids. It’s a great thing and that is why I’ve decided to write certain things on a piece of paper that I will carry along. It'll certainly help me. But the great thing so far has been the cooperation from my co-mentor Raza Zaidi who’s been brilliant so far. He too has been lazy on the ‘notes’ part but the guy has way with the words, Kids love him.

In the morning I have to go to TCF’s main office in Model Town and from there on,have to gather along with other mentors in Defense so It took more than hour for this entire exercise to happen but we did make it to Nurpur campus in the end. I was bit surprised because only two kids; Sajawal and Momin were there out of total six. It was shocking because previous week only two told me about going out on a wedding but another two didn’t make it as well but that doesn’t matter because the community visit was wonderful in the end. These kids had to act like our guides and had to walk us through the nearby area and tell us about it, their village, their area, their families and how things there are. Another reason it was great because they had brought along food which we had later on during discussion hour unlike other groups. The whole community visit was great because here we weren’t discussing something very serious and everything was casual and seriously as I’d like to say, we were all ‘CHILL’ so for next 30 minutes, it was us mentors, these two kids and amazing community around TCF school and not only this we even took photos. Check the photo beneath this paragraph. It is great,isn't it ?

Now when we came back from community visit, it was ALL about the food. Yes we had Pulao, chicken roast and of course coca Cola and man it was delicious <3. Now we were bound to discuss other two categories. First it was the ‘Soch sey Takdeer tak(Though to Destiny) cycle’ . I must insist that I had only read about the cycle once and I’m not exactly good with discussing every bit of what information we’re provided. I think having that casual discussion with kids is better, way better and explaining them in simple words is quite easy for me to make my point go across and I think this is where kids did understand the entire cycle. Not just this, they easily explained the entire cycle in correlation with the life of a robber, an educated man and even Dr. A.Q.Khan.  I’m not saying these kids are perfect but when they explained in their way, and then it made sense to me at least.

After this we moved on to another part about success and failure and here I was surprised again because these two kids had an idea about it. They knew it that success and failure depends on individuals.  Personally the whole idea of success and failure changes from time to time. The great thing was, these two kids knew it that success and failure both come naturally and what was more surprising was a fact they knew one has to stay grounded if successful and work hard if failed. I gotta admit I do have high hopes from these two kids.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

TCF - The New Experience

I like volunteering and have bit of voluntary social working experience as well. I’m one of those guys who are still learning a lot about it. I have always believed it’s an art, almost like a duty to people out there and one has to master it to make a difference. So In order to make a rather more ‘constructive’ difference, I decided after some ‘pushes’ from a very dear friend ( :P ) that it may just be the thing for me. So I ended up volunteering for the first time at TCF, 'The Citizens Foundation'. I volunteered for their Rahbar program which is basically a mentorship program. Yesterday was the first of 6 Saturdays that I spent with some brilliant and very interactive kids.

First I would like to thank three people, Maham, Tuba and Ehsan bhai. Maham is a personal friend of mine and along with Ehsan saab has been volunteering for quite some time. Tuba though works at TCF and she has done an outstanding job so far, seriously. These three are great and they completely made it easy for us ‘mentors’ because doing it for the first time, I was initially quite jittery and all but they have been so helpful.
Personally I hate waking up early because I am very lazy. The only thing I’m never lazy about is perhaps sports especially football but I was actually looking forward to being there on the first day this past weekend. The administration at TCF have divided every Saturday in 6 parts known as ‘Milestones’ because whatever we achieve with kids is nothing short of a milestone in itself. So waking up at 6 and being there at a designated campus with other mentors especially your co-mentor is somewhat tiring but we made it to our designated campus in ‘Nurpur’ near Border. Yes NEAR BORDER! My co-mentor is Raza bhai who’s a cool person too, very chill and in a way like me.

Okay now let’s get to ‘real business’ .The ‘interaction’ with Kids. So around 9:30 or perhaps at 10, we were at the Nurpur campus. So the very first thing we did was to go into the class where our groups of kids, 6 of them were seated. I entered and was bit irked when all of them called me ‘Sir’ and I was literally shocked because for all I know, I’m student myself like them kids. So for the next two hours I was with these kids who were great.  This day we had to know about each other as the designated milestone was divided into different activities completing the two hours. First we had to play the game called ‘Web of yarn’ which I remember, I played last time when I very little, even younger than these kids. It was fun because my co-mentor started with the yarn and from him, each and every student started to introduce themselves one by one. They told us about their homes, their parents, siblings, what they like to become, what sport they like, what subjects they love and hate and I personally believe this was the most interesting part because I wanted to know more about them. They all had one thing in common and it was the continuous use of ‘Bhainsein’ or ‘cows’ because they’re all rural so they all talked about cows so that’s exactly what I did when I introduced myself. ‘Merey paas bhi gaoon mein bhainsein hein’ and I could see in their eyes being all awe-struck, perhaps they thought I’m one of their own but then they were smiling and I think that matters more.

First We had to create a name of our group but they had already chosen it for themselves and it was ‘Sunshine’ and well they liked it and they rejected my suggestion of ‘Red devils’ so in a way I’m stuck with the name. We moved on to another short session where we had to make a distinction that we’re not their teachers and I personally wanted to make sure of it because they called me ‘Sir’ so it was in a way great telling them that we’re like them. Today they are students, yesterday we were in their position and I could relate still because technically I am a student so two or three of them kids opened up to me, asking me how did I reach university. They wanted to know how they can become Doctors, Engineers, Airlines pilots and even bankers. 

Next week we’re hoping to visit their community around us. Hopefully it’ll be great. The whole experience for that day for me at least was great and I’m looking forward to more time with them. I bet it’ll be great.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Lucas goes Disney

'I sense a great disturbance in the Force'

Yes we all remember this quote by our dear Obi Wan Kenobi in Star Wars Episode 4: A New Hope. And yes that was my first reaction to Disney buying Lucas Films and rights of Star wars along with it. But unlike many I am actually quite happy about it and to be honest, really ecstatically excited.

So far we've heard that Disney have bought Lucas Films for $ 4.05 Billion and have announced new Star Wars Episode 7 for potential release in 2015.  I remember George Lucas telling he wont make a new film but I guess deep down he needed to watch new trilogy again himself and well no wonder he handed over the reign to co-chairwoman Kathleen Kennedy and subsequently Disney. 

I am sure majoirty of the die hard Star wars fans right now are excited and then we do have some fans who are worried. Of course in a way I'm a little worried myself but Disney cant be that bad now can it? The reason I say that is because Disney already control Marvel and Pixar and without little or no interference these two companies are doing pretty well so Lucas Films wont do bad either.

For now, Im excited and can only say that Star wars still matter. I cannot wait for Episode 7.

Cheer everyone.