Colours of her

Sunday, September 19, 2010

From The Alchemist

“Why do we have to listen to our hearts?” the boy asked, when they had made camp that day.

“Because, wherever your heart is, that is where you’ll find your treasure.”

“But my heart is agitated,” the boy said. “It has its dreams, it gets emotional, and it’s become passionate over a woman of the desert. It asks things of me, and it keeps me from sleeping many nights, when I’m thinking about her.”

“Well, that’s good. Your heart is alive. Keep listening to what it has to say.”

“My heart is a traitor,” the boy said to the alchemist, when they had paused to rest the horses. “It doesn’t want me to go on.”

“That makes sense. Naturally it’s afraid that, in pursuing your dream, you might lose everything you’ve won.”

“Well, then, why should I listen to my heart?”

“Because you will never again be able to keep it quiet. Even if you pretend not to have heard what it tells you, it will always be there inside you, repeating to you what you’re thinking about life and about the world.”

“You mean I should listen, even if it’s treasonous?”

“Treason is a blow that comes unexpectedly. If you know your heart well, it will never be able to do that to you. Because you’ll know its dreams and wishes, and will know how to deal with them.

“My heart is afraid that it will have to suffer,” the boy told the alchemist one night as they looked up at the moonless sky.

“Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second’s encounter with God and with eternity.”

“Every second of the search is an encounter with God,” the boy told his heart. “When I have been truly searching for my treasure, every day has been luminous, because I’ve known that every hour was a part of the dream that I would find it. When I have been truly searching for my treasure, I’ve discovered things along the way that I never would have seen had I not had the courage to try things that seemed impossible for a shepherd to achieve.”

So his heart was quiet for an entire afternoon. “Everyone on earth has a treasure that awaits him,” his heart said. “We, people’s hearts, seldom say much about those treasures, because people no longer want to go in search of them. We speak of them only to children. Later, we simply let life proceed, in its own direction, toward its own fate. But, unfortunately, very few follow the path laid out for them—the path to their destinies, and to happiness. Most people see the world as a threatening place, and, because they do, the world turns out indeed, to be threatening place.

“So, we, their hearts, speak more and more softly. We never stop speaking out, but we begin to hope that our words won’t be heard: we don’t want people to suffer because they don’t follow their hearts.”

From “The Alchemist”

My post on our official blog

Rukhsana Shama, ActionAid Pakistan's Women's Rights Officer writes:
One of the most beautiful valleys of Pakistan; Swat, portrays a very dismal picture with destroyed infrastructure, partially or fully damaged houses, displaced people and above all battered conditions of women and children. Although the resilience of people is commendable but the level of catastrophe is beyond the control of local people’s self help measures and sporadic humanitarian assistance through government and non-government efforts.
It was a day less than a month after the flood, when I visited Swat on 27th of August. We visited the village Dillai situated in Union Council Bara Bandai in the east of Saidu Sharif and travelled in a make shift boat that took us from one side of the river to the other side where we took a car on a non existent road with big stones that would hit the bottom of the car, but there was no other option to reach to the road which would take us to the far off village of Dillai. This is one of the places where ActionAid Pakistan has been closely working with communities for relief work.
I saw many small carriages over loaded with people and food supplies on the way. I was told by the local partner that the scarcity of fuel and bad road conditions the transportation costs have increased manifold leading to a consequent increase in various essential items of daily use. Medicines and life saving drugs are scarce with no proper medical facilities available to cope with epidemics.
During the times of disaster and emergency people living at the margins of society like women and girls are always most affected with highly increased vulnerability. I met Naheed Bibi in Dillai, she is only 22 years of age and has three children, her husband died a year and half ago from an accidental army mortar attack, she has been living hand to mouth since his death and had to face various hardships because of non-supportive in-laws and very poor parents who live in another nearby village. She was struggling hard to cope with her husband’s death while trying to feed her three children when flood shook her life, yet again.
“When the heavy rains started and the river Swat started rising abnormally, a lot of fellow villagers started shifting from the village, I was so scared but didn’t have any means to shift to a safer place. My house was in such a shabby condition, that’s why I spent one night in my neighbour’s house. The next day amidst the heavy rainfall the water entered into the village and I had to run to save the life of my children. I went to my parent’s house. Five days later I returned to my house and was dismayed to find that the roof had collapsed.”
Naheed’s house has only one room. She has covered it with the tarpaulin that was given to her during the previous displacement, (during the military operation last year) . There are many stories of devastation and women’s sufferings and vulnerabilities. Most women and girls are suffering from malnutrition while they are more vulnerable to epidemics as the flood water has receded and the smell of rotten food, decaying bodies of dead animals and damaged drainage system is worsening while the forecast of more rains is looming as another threat.
I met and heard many stories of women like Naheed who are vulnerable in the aftermath of catastrophe. Humanitarian organizations and INGOs like ActionAid with the help of local partners are reaching out to people and the vulnerable sections of society, but state’s response seems missing from all these efforts. The scale of peoples’ miseries is going to increase in the days to come, women like Naheed will not have any support mechanism, if some sort of planned and women centred sustained rehabilitations efforts are not adopted.
“I will live in my house despite the collapsed roof, because I have nowhere to go and because my children belong here. I want the government to take measures to provide food for my children and I want my children to get education for a better life”, said Naheed.
When I asked her how she wants government to respond to her needs, she showed me a piece of paper, saying that government has promised to give her Rs. 300, 000 as compensation for her husband’s death, when I saw the paper, it was just the photo copy of death certificate of her husband, while she thinks that it is some written documentation from the government and a promise of some sort of compensation.
The authorities need to take contextualized measures to comprehensively respond to people’s need in various areas. People of Swat, and women like Naheed who are waiting for the compensation from the previous disaster need special attention, so that they can be saved from further destruction. It is very important to vigorously initiate a thorough programme of rehabilitation and reconstruction of not only the infrastructure but the lives of people, lives of women and children need reconstruction.
The lack of state’s response and comprehensive rehabilitation plan will add to the miseries of people who are hit by catastrophe, one after the other. It is very important for the state to turn to the demands of these people and put in place a mechanism to rebuild the lives of women, girls and children.

Of a stress management workshop

Well, I intend to free write on the stress management workshop I attended yesterday. To be true, I have never had any positive opinion about the workshops like time management, leadership skills development, positive thinking and so on and so forth, so I didn't have any better opinion about this particular workshop, either. Though, I attended it nevertheless. I thought atleast the money would be worth spent as it would go to flood victims. So, here I was into the workshop with forty people, rather forty strangers. I went to the workshop all alone without any acquaintance. not that it matters, but it is good to have someone whom you know, just in case...

We started off from learning what stress is and we learnt that stress is a biological, psychological and physiological response of our body and mind (for me body and mind are two separate things because mind is more than matter for me) to the outside happening and external environment and particular situation.

Then after some more explanation we were given some tests to ascertained as to how much stressed we are (basically, it was two step tests, one was to determine how stressful the environment is, around a particular individual, and what are the symptoms of stress).

Skipping some thing; in one of the next phases of the workshop we learnt more about ourselves by forming a spiritual family. We formed spiritual family with the person sitting next to us...so it was in one case threesome (as the facilitator put it:P) and in the other case it was a pair). In one of the instances, the partner had to ask who are you and that question has to be repeatedly asked for five minutes and in the answer to the question, each time, you had to tell something new about yourself and by the end of the session you would realize that you start off with all the flashy things about yourself but within two minutes you seem to have nothing to say about 'who you are'. Actually this session was to tell you that 'you are nothing' at the end of the day. Well, that doesn't mean that you are unworthy or something, but it is to tell you to stop pretending to be 'something' all the time and 'be yourself'...

All in all, the whole workshop until the second last session had to tell us the following:
Learn to be happy now (WITHOUT ANY STRINGS ATTACHED)
TRY LIVING IN THE MOMENT (back in 2007 when i was going to a trip to fairy meadows, I was having a discussion with a friend of mine who went to that trip with me, and I told her that my problem is that I dont live in the moment and that is something which overshadows my life and my whole existence...and I still continue to be like that, so the realization has been there which was further reinforced by this workshop)
The third was existence by yourself (do not try to put yourself in relativity paradigm, although sometimes existence narrows down to just that, which is unfortunate)
And yea I am nothing
Remove splinters from your life
(I will write separately on all these above mentioned to do things)

the last session and the one to take away with you was yoga, well I have always been interested in yoga and i tried to self learn it once (it was quite a few years back, now although i read about yoga a little but no practical thing). So we adopted the breathing paradigm of Yoga, I am glad that we did that because I have always been interested in the breathing exercises.

we learnt five steps:
Breathing Observation
Warriors Breathing, Bhastrika
Alternative Breathing, Pranayama
Scalp shining, Kapalbhati
Withdrawal of senses (I hope I am not wrong about this term)

I learnt from the workshop:
Well, it wasn't anything very new, it is just that things traveled from from unconscious to conscious (to some extent), and also the thing is that you do not absorb everything you hear or see or feel, you absorb what sinks into your senses.

One thing which I always realize is that no matter how many such workshops you attend, no matter how many such books you read, no matter how many inspirational TED talks you listen to, it is you who has to do it for yourself. The worksops, books, TED talks can tell you how to do it but the action part is all yours, YOU ARE THE ONE WHO WILL DO IT FOR YOURSELF (these caps are to tell myself)

sometimes you really need slap or hard pushes to do things, to move your bones...

The Facilitator:

If I don't mention the facilitator it would be really injustice to the whole description. Although I think he hadn't done all he would have, otherwise, had the group been more open, had our guards were a little down, had we come out of our shells and that's the problem with such formal workshops, you just can't be YOU.
The facilitator Mr. Athar Hameed was damn good especially his references to movies, literature (Urdu English Punjabi) and the fact that he is an ACT in himself was really amazing.

Well, out from these workshop fresh, you are always high, "oh now I can do this and I can do that...now I won't be all that gloomy or I can take care of it in a better way"...the fact is that it rarely happens. For this to happen, one needs a real inside drive, one really needs to have it inside oneself, one really needs to be able to ACT.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Warrior Song of King Gezar

Our earth is wounded. Her oceans and lakes are sick; her rivers are like running sores; The air is filled with subtle poisons. And the oily smoke of countless hellish fires blackens the sun. Men and women, scattered from homeland, family, friends, wander desolate and uncertain, scorched by toxic sun...

In this desert of frightened, blind uncertainty, some take refuge in the pursuit of power. Some become manipulators of illusion and deceit. If wisdom and harmony still dwell in this world, as other than a dream lost in an unopened book, they are hidden in our heartbeat.

And it is from hearts that we cry out. We cry out and our voices are the single voice of this wounded earth. Our cries are a great wind across earth.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Presenting Stories of Change

There are so many different ways to present stories of change or stories of those voiceless and marginalized sections of society. More innovatively it is done more outreach it gets and more impactful it becomes. Digital story writing is one very innovative and efficient way to bring these stories to the audience and present to the people where it matters and would prove impactful.

Humans in general are more responsive towards they see, visual tools are very effective in getting the message across, that's why TV, videos and movies remain to be a very popular genre.

While working as a development professional it becomes very difficult to use visual medias when one is constantly trying to get its message across and at the same time limit itself in certain budget. Financial constraints are often a hindrance.

Digital story telling is a tool which is not only cost efficient but also highly impactful. In countries like Pakistan where majority of population is illiterate a written word never fulfills the purpose, while the visual medium not only gets the message across but act as a tool to internalize what is seen and conveyed.

I see various uses of this tool to bring about social change in countries like Pakistan. Small organizations like CBOs can use this tool to have an entry in the communities and to generate useful discussions on the basis of digital stories, youth is another target audience which needs to be tapped and visual medium as cheap and as effective as digital story telling would have enormous effect.

New spirit, new zeal and courage to write and write more

Tomorrow I leave Heia Safari ranch with new ideas for writing better for my work and for myself. Writing has always been something I have been doing, but with this workshop I have realized that there is so much I can do to improve. It has given me more confidence in myself and new horizons to explore. I think I gradually came into a writer's block, but that block will certainly break or I would say has already broken. I also am now confident that I can fight with writer's block or what we may call in other words the saturation point or fear of writing.

Free writing is a tool, with which you can get your mind working, flow of ideas would gradually become better and this will make your writing more diverse and better.

It is always said that writing or for that matter pen is the best weapon one can use to fight, but yes, fight peacefully. It is all about getting your ideas across and well, it doesn't matter whether the ideas are accepted, debated upon or rejected outrightly. Because communication of your ideas and then learning from feedback on the ideas is key to refine your opinions, your overview about life and its contribution to what you ultimately shape into.

I am confident that I am going to write freely, confidently and in more impactful manner. This is my first step in this direction and taking first step is the most difficult thing...

12:15 PM South Africa, Friday