By Sonya Rehman
Last week a group of young Pakistanis congregated in Gulberg and Defence to collect funds in a door-to-door aid collection drive for the victims of the recent floods in the country.
Going by the name of ‘Responsible Citizens – Zimmedar Shehri’, the group of young Pakistanis has been active in doing their bit to bring about constructive, social change. The group is most known for its active drive towards cleaning up Lahore in a project called ‘Take Out The Trash’ where Pakistanis are encouraged to assemble with the members of the group at a certain spot in the city and help rid the area of garbage with shovels, garbage bags and brooms et al.
But during the last week the ‘Responsible Citizens’, via their Facebook page, invited their members to join them in a drive to collect aid that would be the used for the procurement of food and medicines as most of the victims of the flood are now having to cope with the lethal threat of water-borne diseases.
These supplies are due to be transported to the overlooked Khyber Pakhtunkhwa flood-affected areas by some of the members of ‘Responsible Citizens’.
Shoaib Ahmed, one of the founding members of the group, stated that citizens outside shops, cafes and restaurants in the areas of Gulberg and Defence were asked to contribute whatever they could towards the endeavour.
Towards the end of the second day, a total of Rs 74, 620 in cash donations were collected along with 400 kilos of rice, among other food and clothing items.
In a message to the group’s members on Facebook, Jalal Hussain wrote: “These last two days have been awe-inspiring, to experience firsthand, the generosity of the common man – from rickshaw drivers to eunuchs, from security guards to labourers, everyone contributed and showed how much they care for their country. It gave us a lot of hope and confidence that together we as a nation can survive this terrible tragedy and come out stronger.”
While some subscribe to the notion that ordinary Pakistani citizens aren’t pro-active enough, Ahmed stated: “I think we are very pro-active, I mean you have an astounding number of groups popping up on Facebook whenever something happens, all calling for action. What’s lacking though is a clear definition of exactly what ‘action’ they are calling for. ‘Responsible Citizens’ is different in the sense that we have a very clear idea of what we want in the long-run and have tangible, constructive short term projects throughout the year that materialize our ideas.”
A little effort brings about tangible results. And this is echoed by Ahmed who stated that with the help of social networking websites such as Facebook, a wide cross-section of people can be reached out to. “Registering as a society and setting up chapters in different cities was really easy,” he said.
For their forthcoming projects, ‘Responsible Citizens’ is gearing up to soon launch a journal which focuses on development, articles on social change, and socio-political issues which need to be addressed.
In addition, their project ‘Post For Peace’ sounds particularly original and exciting. The project aims at printing 200,000 postcards that will be filled out by Pakistanis and then posted to 200,000 people in New York City as an effort to break stereotypes and “dispel some of the misconceptions that people on both sides of the US and Pakistan have about each other.”
“It’s kind of like a snapshot of life in Pakistan,” Ahmed said.
The Express Tribune