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How to spend $700,000?

How to spend $700,000? There was once a minister in the federal government of a country.  He had a wealthy friend.  There was also a retired provincial legislator in the same country.  Collectively they had about $700,000 (the minister $100,000; the friend $400,000, and the legislator $200,000) to spend and wanted to find that special something that would give the best return. They looked into real estate.  The global economy was down.  Almost anywhere in the world, one could find bargain properties at 25%-50% of what they were going for 2 to 3 years ago.  Land was still the most secure investment, and prices were bound to rise again – all part of the natural 10-12 year cycle.  But they realized they already had extensive real estate portfolio.  They were in a quandary. What to do?  As they brainstormed, one of them blurted out – we should consider supporting some sort of humanitarian cause.  Everyone looked at him strangely.  What would be the return on that?  Well, maybe not so tangible, and not so overt.  But it could make a dent in the seemingly hopeless efforts to improve and better develop the foundations of the society they lived in. Why would we want to do that? The others asked at first, but somehow ended up also getting infected.  In a moment of weakness, they felt the pain of their country in their hearts.  As they shared some kind of trance, number and statistics danced in front of their eyes.  The per capita income of $1,256 in 2011-12, slightly up from $1,207 in 2010-11.  The ‘official’ 19% inflation rate in 2011.  The average life expectancy of 65 years.  The infant mortality rate of 59 per thousand births.  It brought a single, powerful, collective tear to their eyes. Unable to stop themselves, they started talking about the NGOs that could benefit from the $700,000.  But which one?  They looked at Wikipedia and found over 500 listed.  They were overwhelmed and gave up when many on the list did not even have active links.  Their hearts were burdened even more.  (I know it is incredulous, but please stay with me). A flash of light.  The Edhi foundation!  They could cover 70% of the cost of the additional Edhi homes for the destitute and orphans to be built over the next few years.  Or they could spend $500,000 and fully cover the cost of the additional rehab centers and ambulances the foundation needed.  Well, it was a good idea, but they argued that...

The Uplifting and the Heartbreaking

Life.  It can uplifting and heartbreaking at the same time, in the same place about the same people. The uplifting.  The 18 Edhi homes, run under the Edhi Foundation umbrella are located in practically all the major metropolitan centers of Pakistan – 7 in Karachi, 3 in Lahore, and one each in Multan, Islamabad, Peshawar, Quetta and Chitral.  These walls, serving as orphanages, havens for the mentally and physically handicapped, and refuge for female victims of domestic abuse, house between 8000 and 9000 children, men and women. For more than 55 years, Edhi and his non-profit foundation have been providing humanitarian services in a country that seems to continue to need more and more of it.  The numerous services provided by the Edhi foundation include ambulance services, free kitchens, child adoption and care services, rehabilitation centers and educational services.  Even now, when all this is in place, it is difficult to imagine the scale of the change this one man has been able to make. The heartbreaking.  Last week, nine newborn children die in 12 hours in Larkana, at the Chandka Medical College Hospital.  The cause of this heartbreaking event?  According to the regional government it was power outage.  According to the hospital administration, it was the perpetual overcrowding and late arrival of the mothers-to-be.  It seems the hospital has a capacity of 40 patients, but routinely takes in four times that, crowding four or five babies on the same bed.  Even more heartbreaking, the administrators say 4 to 8 babies die in the hospital every day. I cannot imagine the challenges of the hospital administration.  How can one turn away a woman in labor, even when there is no bed or room for her to deliver the child, and no facilities for the newborn to be cared for?  What does one do when seeing the spark of a new life diminishing and then extinguishing before your eye?  Does one shed a tear, pray to God, and move to the next mother and child? But then, life’s uplifting tales more than often are stories of individuals, while opaque institutions, organizations and bureaus frequently breed accounts of heartbreak and...

September 30 thoughts

Freedom of speech, an inalienable American right, is fast spreading as an inalienable human right across the globe.  The accessibility of a podium through technology has made it possible for anyone and everyone to opine freely on whatever topic is dear to their hearts.  This is a good thing.  And a bad thing.  The world now feels more and more like a school yard, with individual and nations being the kids in the yard. Parts of the world where ideologies driven by a small group had a stranglehold have found they no longer can wield as much control as they could even a year ago. On one side, every lunatic’s hate-filled voice can be heard across the world in seconds.  On the other, we have a victim mind-set, waiting for somebody to breathe the wrong way so a death sentence, a price on the head of the offender and those of similar ilk can be handed out. Who’s to blame?  Who is more at fault?  The provoker who knows exactly what words to use to evoke the most fury, ruffle the most feathers, and most deeply wound delicate constitutions?  Or the self-proclaimed chosen people who are more than happy to show the world just how quickly they will kill and injure hundreds of innocents in retaliation, whether the victims are their own brothers, sisters, and country-folk or not. Is this driven by any religion?  Does this even make sense?  Of course it does not.  For it to make sense, a people would actually follow the example before them 1400 years ago, and forgive – not try to kill an 11-year-old learning disabled girl and her family for purportedly burning some pages of the Koran.  Which by the way, as it was found out later, were actually planted by the imam of the mosque. No.  This is not religion.  This is a distortion of religion by some on both...

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