All right, Spogmai Khaaperai. Here.
We need to talk about how we can help our people. Many Pukhtuns are living/studying abroad, and at least a few of us have the means and abilities to help our people.
I'm sure we know better than to depend on the government to help us -- at least not when it has SO enthusiastically killed our people and burnt our homes.
Here's what I think needs to be done (and NOT very easily!). Much of it is about the IDPs, but now that labele can be replaced with "IDPs who have returned home"... yeah?
1. Lots of families have had their houses destroyed. Some of the IDPs are going to go back to Swat/Buner/Dir, but to what? Most likely to fallen roofs and walls, dried wells, broken roads, destroyed fields, and so on.
Question: How can we help them get back on their feet?
2. Lots of our schools have been burnt to ashes.
Questions: How can we help re-build these schools? How can we help school our children in order to avoid another hell from breaking any time soon?
3. Too many families have lost their breadwinners.
Questions: How are they going to live now? Who's going to provide for them? Who's going to look after them? How are they going to deal with their children? Do their children have hope at all?
4. Our children have lost their fathers and mothers in many cases and will most likely be ending up working for themselves and the rest of their families (I'm completely against child labor).
Questions: How can we make sure that our kids don't end up working, as that'll lead to more and more generations of extreme poverty, though keeping in mind what a challenge it'll be to prevent that from happening?
5. All of this is bound to lead to the creation of orphanages :S And we know how children are treated there. I mean, yeah, at least they have SOME place to sleep in, SOME shelter, but ... I'm sure we can do better than let so many of our kids end up in orphanages.
Questions: What can we do to help these kids? Are there more alternatives to providing shelters for these children, or are orphanages the only option? If we accept that they may stay in orphanages, are there still ways we can help them there -- perhaps visit them to read to them, teach them something (maybe even volunteer as teachers for some time?), play with them, etc.?
I know we might think we don't have time ... but really, what DO we have time for if not for the betterment of our own race?
If nothing else, can we help them financially by perhaps forming communities with local Pashtuns (or even non-Pashtuns) and then having a member or two or more of those communities go back to our land and distribute what we've collected?
This whole issue of the IDPs is a humanitarian one, one in which we are forced to depend on the government, NGOs, and donors and other voluntary organizations. BUT I have absolutely NO expectations from or even hope in the government. The government has refused to help better our schools, build or better our roads, and do other absolutely needed things for us (at least in Swat ever since our princely state joined the country), so what will it do now?
Besides, waiting for the government to make some moves is not worth it, honestly. They'll be sure to take their precious time, and, really, WHILE waiting for them to get something done, we can do much on our own without them a well.
But anyway, I think that while we're waiting for others to help us, we should start something on our own. Yeah, it’s not easy, but remember that anything will be appreciated at this point because we HAVE to do something. ANYTHING.
By the way, it's important to keep in mind that whatever we plan doesn't go against the norms of our religion and culture. This is important because we want to be practical and realistic, and we want to implement our ideas in a wise manner. To go against our own people's beliefs will only hinder us from getting everything accomplished AND will produce insecure and bitter thoughts in our people’s minds for us – even though we will mean nothing but good for them.
Now, what I'm most after is just basic education for the kids while we wait and hope for our schools to be re-built (whether by private organizations or by the government). At this moment, I honestly don’t think we should care how the condition of our schools will be. I mean, our children and their parents must have yet to recover from having personally witnessed the burning down of their schools! And these kids don’t have to *wait* for their schools to be re-built so they can start learning again. We can do something for them right now. When I say “we” in this sentence, I mean anyone who is capable of doing so. This has been inspired by all those volunteers who visited the IDP camps and taught our children how to read and write in spite of their painful conditions How honorable!
Education doesn’t have to take place in official schools, definitely not right now in our war-torn land anyway. Nothing would give me more satisfaction and pleasure than having just a few of these children-victims in my own house so that I can teach them for just a couple of hours a day. And this doesn’t require high education – just anyone who can read and write and knows basic arithmetic. It would be informal education, you see. And besides, we’re *all* teacher and we’re *all* students. It would be a perfect start, and as time passes and we are assured that our schools are being re-built, we can move to official schools and professional teachers.
Someone suggested orphanages. I’m all for it since, though the kids will not have as good a life in the orphanage as they will if inside a home and a regular family, they have at least SOME shelter, SOME food, SOME clothing, SOME love, SOME care … SOME home. But I sometimes wonder … if those of us who believe in adoption and are perfectly okay with it and have a longing to raise kids and educate them our way, why don’t we do it? I have absolutely no right to tell people to adopt these kids who have been orphanned by a brutal war due to which they not only lost important family members but perhaps the faculty of hearing/vision – if not some limbs as well. BUT I think that it’s not considered something...I don’t know, “good” to adopt a child?
What is it that we have against adoption? Or am I wrong, because I’m saying this just ‘cause I know of no one from our culture who has adopted a child or two (other than their own relatives)? Perhaps I’m wrong, yes, but ... I would rather those who are okay with adoption and can afford to feed an extra mouth and educate an extra mind in their family, do so … instead of leaving the kid to an orphanage. See, if we were in these kids’ parents’ shoes, what would we think once we find out that our kids have been abandoned? Or even left in an orphanage with scores of other children and not given enough attention that a child should be given?
But I understand that perhaps I am making a silly demand, or even a silly suggestion, by saying that. So I’ll let it go.
At least with orphanages, we can serve more children at one time than we can by adoption.
Importance of helping the IDPs.
We have explain to our people WHY it's important to help these IDPs get back on their feet. Searching for sympathetic and passionate (and, more than anything, sincere and honest) people who can help will be a problem as well. How many such people do we know? :S But we mustn’t lose faith in humanity; they exist, of course, and we’ll find them, one way or another.
At the moment, I think we need people who have worked with/in orphanages or who know people who have connection with orphanages themselves, and I think this should be our main goal for the moment -- getting in touch with folks like these.
Types of people we need.
We also need (honest) people who have the leadership skills to form a group and initiate fund raising activities and collect enough donations (of anything – clothing articles, food, water, money... doesn't matter; we can never have too much of these). Then we need people who have the gut, confidence, and passion to temporarily go back there and distribute these collected items there. This way, we can know for certain that our hard work paid off and that the items were bestowed upon our target.
Then, of course, we will be needing those strong people who can go back and help with the schools and education. Not necessarily “real” (official) schools yet, but just volunteers who can go to the orphanages and teach the kids there. OR even someone who can have enough passion to gather a group of kids at least every now and then, if not daily, and teach them reading and writing and arithmetic and whatever else is necessary for living in today’s world.
Also, people, let's forget what *others* can do for us and/or these IDPs. Let's ask ourselves what *we* can do for them/ourselves first If WE ourselves are incapable, then it makes sense to turn to others or expect something from others, but unless and until we help ourselves, we must not fool ourselves into thinking that others will care for us at all or feel our pain and loss.
Why "discussions" about this are important.
(It's a response to someone who said, "Facebook/etc. are NO means of getting constructive things done. If you wanna do something for Pukhtuns, go to their land and do it."
Well, I strongly disagree.
Of course, just sitting here and having discussions is not as useful as we might want it to be, but the whole point of my bringing this discussion up was to *gather* ideas in the first place. I don't necessarily call for Pukhtuns who are living abroad to go back to Pukhtunkhwa or Afghanistan and save our people. I wnat us to come together here and figure out ways to help our distraught people back home even without having to go back to our land. We don't have to be physically there to help, you know; we can still manage to do a lot even while away from there.
You can be where you are and gather a group of Pukhtuns (or even non-Pukhtuns who believe in serving humanity) to collect donations for us, and then find out some organizations that can help you send it back to our land and distribute it in an honest way to those who need it. Perhaps there's one person who can go there him/herself to watch it being distributed so that he/she can be assured that their hard work paid off and that the donations reached the right people.
Or then, perhaps you are a businessman/woman or know someone who is, or then know someone who has connections with people who own orphanages. Or perhaps, in a near future, you can viist an orphanage yourself, one with tons of Pukhtun children-victims of this brutal war we just witnessed and suffered, and see what you have that you can offer to these potential future leaders of ours.
Or perhaps you might marry one day and decide that you want to help a child or two and adopt one or two and/or properly educate and feed as many as you can afford so that you can rightfully claim that you are giving back to your own race, that you have done something good for humanity, that you have done something the effects of which are going to last till eternity.
These are simple ideas, and my hope and expectation is that others will also contribute their own thoughts and suggestions of what we can do. What we suggest doesn't necessarily have to take place right now or in the present; it's all right if they plan to do something in the future. BUT I'm not very supportive of that idea because I strongly believe (and this has been proven to me) that we can do a LOT even while growing up ourselves and while planning and building our own personal future. Meaning, we don't have to wait till we are teachers, engineers, lawyers, doctors, etc. to do something constructive for those who need us most right now. And what we do doesn't have to be something big; every single effort counts, even if it is buying small games for kids that will encourage them to go to school or help them learn their ABCs and 1, 2, 3s.