By Sonya Rehman
“Why does any explorer undertake the necessary risks in order to accomplish their dream? Because that person has a drive, they have a focus, and they have a need to explore that dream,” Haris Suleman wrote in his blog post for The Huffington Post in early July.
This year, the 17-year-old, Haris, along with his father, Babar Suleman, set out on an incredible journey: an around the world, 30-day trip on a single engine plane to raise funds for a well-known non-profit in Pakistan, The Citizens Foundation (TCF). The funds were being raised for the building of schools for the underprivileged in the country, a cause that both father and son were extremely passionate about.
However, the plane crashed shortly after take-off from Hawaii to the U.S. The father-son duo were on the last leg of their journey when the plane plunged into the Pacific Ocean on July 22. Babar, an experienced private pilot, was leading the journey, while his son, Haris, was to become the youngest pilot in control to undertake such a challenging mission.
“I am doing this to raise $1 million for The Citizen’s Foundation schools. I am associated with a TCF chapter in Indiana called Seeds of Learning,” the Pakistani-American, Haris, told DAWN, emphasizing that the expedition was being carried out for charity, not to break world records.
While Haris’ body was soon recovered by the Coast Guard, Babar remains missing. Family and friends have taken to social media – using the hash tag #BringBabarBack across all social networking sites – to raise funds and awareness for the search operation for Babar.
Babar and Haris’ Go Fund Me page, originally set up to raise funds for the duo’s expedition, is now being used to generate aid for Babar’s search operation.
Stated on the updated version of the page: “As of Sunday, July 27th, funds raised on this page will assist in the search and rescue operation. The goal needed to complete this task is enormous, but we have faith in our friends, family and international community.”
“The amount of support I’ve had from the different communities I’m a part of really makes me realize how fortunate I am for having all of you,” tweeted Haris on July 19.
It is tragic. Amidst the recent slew of commercial airline plane crashes this year, the Suleman family’s tragedy has been met with similar shock and disbelief across Pakistan and in the U.S. Babar and Haris were so close to completing their journey.
In his blog, Haris stated: “A lot of people have expressed concern that the journey that my father and I have set out on is a risky venture. Some have even questioned why we would put ourselves through such a challenge. I simply ask them: Why did Edmund Hillary Climb Mt Everest? Why did Christopher Columbus discover America? Why did Marco Polo travel to China? There is a part of everyone that craves discovery and adventure and we have chosen to live out this craving. Breaking out of the routine of day to day life requires bravery in more than one form.”
Haris and his father proved just that – they set out on a vision fueled by hope. A dream that superseded consequence and fear…and perhaps that, in itself, is the bravest way to live.
The Diplomat Magazine