Why Karachi Needs Compassion

Karachi is a city. A city is made up of humans. Karachi is human. A human filled with passion, desire, hope, drive and courage. Yet Karachi is in constant chaos. It is slowly seeping into chronic depression. Each sunrise brings with itself a new set of horror stories. Karachi, the city of lights, is now synonymous with danger, extortions, target killings and so on. With each passing day, Karachi suffers deeply. The city is undergoing all this turmoil and; needs to be hugged tightly, not pushed away. Karachi needs compassion.

The Oxford dictionary, describes compassion as a ‘sympathetic feeling and concern for the sufferings and misfortunes of others’. But compassion is so much more. To be compassionate is to be courageous, empathetic, forgiving, humble and filled with gratitude. It is to be patient and loving. It is to understand that everyone is equally important in the grander scheme of things and needs to be treated the same way.

Karachi needs to stop labeling. Karachi is not Shia, Sunni, Pathan, Muhajir, Sindhi, rich, poor and so on. Karachi needs to learn to live with diversity. It needs to accept everyone as humans and not differentiate between who is more pious or who is whiter or who is richer. It needs to recognize all as equal individuals and not have labels divided and arranged in a pyramid with some on top for being better than the rest. Karachi needs to be humble.

Karachi is one city. The difference between this side of the bridge and that side of the bridge should not exist. If in one city there is a Lyari which is a ‘no zone’ and there is Defense which is ‘the zone’ than Karachi needs to reevaluate its humanity. It needs to work hard to make Lyari and Defense the same and that does not happen by just painting Lyari or building a shopping mall in it. It happens by invoking empathy into the people who make Karachi. It happens by making the child and adult from ‘the zone’ understand that no one from the ‘no zone’ is beneath them or less than them in any matter. It happens by making ‘the zone’ join hands with ‘no zone’ and work together to mobilize the ‘no zone’ into ‘the zone’. Karachi needs to be empathetic.

Karachi is stuck in a vicious cycle of violence and revenge. It is stuck in the past where someone was harmed and revenge becomes the word of the day for a week or so, every few months during the year. Tomorrow could be another day for revenge, but it does not have to be. In this cycle of revenge the city will burn and come to a halt. Schools and windows will be shut down, roads and streets will be empty and people will silently huddle around the television waiting to see how much the city will burn this time. Karachi needs to be forgiving.

Karachi is not a city for people anymore. It is a military urban city. Its children are growing up amongst terrorist attacks and target killings. They wonder if school will be on tomorrow; will they reach home safely; will their cell phones work; should they take an alternate safer route. They flip the channel reporting casualties in a blast without batting an eyelash; they have become immune to violence. This needs to be changed. Karachi needs to be more loving.

Karachi with its jam packed roads, its sudden rain, its hot chai (tea) and spicy chaat and its cool evening breeze is bleeding and dying. But there is a chance to save it. The humans of Karachi need to be reminded about compassion. They need to practice it naturally. They need to be grateful and patient. They need to help when they can, however they can, because only then Karachi will survive. And its survival is our survival. After all; Karachi is you. Karachi is me. Karachi is home.

Categories: Compassionate Skills, Courage, Empathy, Forgiveness, Gratitude, Humility, Mindfulness, Self Compassion | Leave a comment

The CfC Compassionate Art Competition 2014

“Art introduced me to Revolution”– Albert Einstein

Dream, believe, achieve is the theme we carry; and in order to do that, it is very important to imagine and dream. Children learn best when they use their imagination, so this time around Charter for Compassion, along with English Biscuit Manufacturers brought forward Children Artists ranging from 6 years to 16 years to participate in an arts competition, which allowed them to dream and draw a compassionate world.

CfC Compassionate Art Competition

CfC Compassionate Art Competition

Topics ranging from random acts of kindness to courage – allowing children to draw, paint and color their imaginations, dreams and emotions. With 9 schools participating and over 400 young artists coming forward, the competition was held on January 30, 2014 at Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Park.

The event started off with an interactive story telling session about Compassion, by trainer & consultant Zohair Allibhoy, covering all nine skills on the CfC Curriculum; Courage, Empathy, Gratitude, Forgiveness, Humility, Self Compassion, Altruism, Mindfulness & Integrity. Anushe Hussain, the project lead, then announced the rules of competition and kicked off the one hour thirty minute draw, color, paint time. The teachers were not allowed to help the students and all art work created was students and students themselves.

No matter who gets the first position, every one of you is a winner today” said Amin Hashwani, President of Charter for Compassion Pakistan, addressing the students, right before the beginning of the competition. Out of hundreds of schools and thousands of students, four hundred taking an initiative to come out and draw a better tomorrow, are definitely winners.

The students enjoyed the outdoor environment and were absorbed in their art works. More than winning, the idea of presenting their thoughts about a compassionate world seemed to appeal to them. And most students, even though finished their drawings earlier than the given time, spent a time refining their art and adding colors to their canvas.

During this time, an interactive talk took place with the teachers, where they were asked about the event, changes after Compassionate School Network and the importance of compassion.

Education is Compassion,” Said one teacher, “the world we are living in possessive little display of compassion, the Compassionate School Network has helped my students develop the courage to display compassion not only towards fellow class mates but people, animals and other living things in general.”

Compassionate Art Competition 2014

Compassionate Art Competition 2014

Compassion is an important skill, it is not only to develop Mindfulness and a sense of Altruism in our future generations, but an important part of character building for our students, making them better human beings” Said another teacher.

Bridging the gap between character and education this competition provided a brilliant opportunity for students and teachers to interact and reflect on their ideas of a compassionate world, where students were divided into three categories; grade one to three, four to six and seven to ten, displayed it in form of their artwork, and teachers learned more about their students.

Volunteers from different universities also came together, actively learning from the young students and helping them with charts, water for painting and time checks.

After an hour and a half of the drawing time, judges, Nafisa Rizvi, Nurayah Nabi Sheikh, Rabeya Jalil, Arshad Faruqi, Scheherzade Junejo and Samar Hussain took rounds to select winners. Going through a complicated decision making process of forty five minutes.

Multiple print & electronic media came in to cover the event, motivating the students further to display their work.

All in all, nine winners were selected from the three categories at first, second and third positions from each category where, Ashra Adeel from Dawood Public School, M. Hassam Bhayat from Jaffar Public School, and Mohib Zafar from Beaconhouse Jubilee Campus took first positions in categories grade one to three, four to six and seven to ten, respectively.

The Navy School for Special children also participated in the competition; interesting it was to see that they managed to reach the venue a little later into the competition and finished before everyone else, producing amazing ideas and thoughts about a compassionate world. Everyone received the first prize from that school as became the unanimous decision by the judges.

The event closed on a high note, where students and teachers endorsed the idea of more events like these on a larger scale, attempting to make Karachi a Compassionate city.

Categories: Altruism, Compassionate Skills, Courage, Gratitude, Humility | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Celebrating 66 years of Independence – August 14, 2013


The celebrations on Independence Day have long been a source of national pride, signified with parades, the recitation of the national anthem at venues across the country and citizens displaying their patriotism with flags attached to cars and houses.

However, the quintessential question remains: as Pakistanis, what exactly are we celebrating? Is it just the day, 14thAugust, that signified the creation of the newest Muslim state and the largest internal migration ever seen in the world; or is it more than that? Should we not also be celebrating and highlighting the development and successes of Pakistan since Independence? While this may seem like an ironic statement to make during an epoch of history where the country seems to be suffering in every sector and region, however we should not digress from the fact that the story of Pakistan has been one of survival and endurance.The gentry has persevered and built a future for themselves. We continue with our lives in the hope of a better time and better circumstances.

Nonetheless, with people dying every day and tragedy after tragedy hitting Pakistan, we continue with our daily lives. Does this mean we have become desensitized to violence and indifferent to the suffering of our fellow Pakistanis? After all, there was a time when the death of ten people was a cause for mourning, which it still is, but now the death of 20 people a day in Karachi has become commonplace. I don’t think that means that our lack of strong reaction to the violence is a lack of compassion. We as Pakistanis look for reasons to unite. In no time is our unity greater than in times of humanitarian crisis. Following the 2010 floods and the 2005 earthquake the response was inspiring. Civil society mobilised and all manner of people found ways to help, whether this was donating money and sending food or simple things like donating old clothes and spare blankets.

No matter how bad things get, no matter how far brinkmanship takes us, we as Pakistanis are compassionate people at heart  and that is something we can never and never should surrender. That is worth celebrating.

Categories: Compassionate Skills, Gratitude | Leave a comment

Dobri Dobrev – A Diamond in the Rough

Every morning at the crack of dawn, 96 year old Dobri Dobrev gets ready to go to work. He leaves his tiny house in Bulgaria’s village of Bailovo and walks to the city of Sofia, a distance of ten kilometers. Upon his arrival in Sofia, unlike most professionals, Dobri has the option to contemplate where he would like to sit and work for the duration of the day. Dobri Dobrev has donated over EUR 40,000 for charitable causes. He has paid utility bills for orphanages and contributed for the restoration of monasteries in Europe. He has become the most generous benefactor of the largest Cathedral in Eastern Europe – St. Alexander Nevsky in the city Sofia.

The spark that follows this man and illuminates his character lies in the fact that he is simply a beggar who collects for others. EUR 40,000 was everything that he had collected on the streets of Sofia. Beggars can’t be chooser, but it seems that they can be generous donors. Dobri Dobrev is one inspirational figure who deserves the undisputed title for one of the most generous people on planet Earth.

In the midst of the Second World War, Dobri Dobrev lost his hearing, an ordeal which presumably prevented him from acquiring a reasonably financially strong job after the war. This impairment however, never stopped Dobri from creating a life full of purpose. The man lives off his pension and surprisingly never dips his hand in the same money jar that he uses to collect from the streets. Even his clothes are homemade along with his leather shoes.dobri1

It is evident that generosity can arise from the most surprising places at times and it doesn’t take a hefty bank account for someone to start being generous either. Billionaires and Millionaires all over the world are mostly recognized for their wealth and sometimes for the sizable donations that they make for social welfare. Dobri Dobrev proves that selflessness, though rarely, can ascend from poverty struck areas as well.

Like wild fire, news of Dobri Dobrev; the 96 year old deaf beggar that donates money, has spread all across the globe as an inspirational tale. Dobri’s fan base continues to increase day by day and spread the word of this unbelievably humble and unconventional beggar.

If you ever choose to visit the beautiful city of Sophia, try to spot a man in the streets, rich as rich can be, and give this man a Euro or two, for he is a one man NGO and one man army, fighting the battle for those in need, as a diamond in the rough.

Categories: Altruism, Gratitude, Humility | Tags: , | 1 Comment

The Candy Cab

“No eating or drinking inside this car… Except Candies” says a sign in Mansoor Khalid’s cab.

Mansoor Khalid and his Cab

Mansoor Khalid and his Cab

Mr. Khalid stocks the back dashboard of his yellow cab with a wide range of candies. He is the reason behind the smiles of a multitude of people. His ideology for on the wheels celebration has given New York a unique way of keeping calm during rush hours, getting over the nervousness of the first job interview, forgetting about the tough financial issues, lowering their frustration levels or even double their happiness. Mr Khalid’s cab is filled with candies, has music and is outfitted with an advance lighting system. He has a subwoofer which, according to him, “makes your heart boom.”

Mansoor Khalid is an electrical engineer from Pakistan, who has been driving a yellow cab in New York since 1996. His patience, gratitude and altruism is making a positive difference in the lives of the people he interacts with.

Khalid lost his 18 months old son in 2012, and since then he has turned his cab into a rolling celebration for all New Yorkers. Now he focuses on making people happy, and he says giving others can at-least hide, if not heal, his own feelings of loss.

Khalid’s act of altruism is a true example of finding comfort by making others happy, this is what keeps him going after his irreplaceable loss.

This is what New York has to say about Khalid and his candy cab.

“I was in a bad mood because I’ve been lugging boxes all day,” she said, “You just totally changed my Monday.” – Cassandra Johnson, a typical retail employee in New York

“If you think about it, you have to wonder why he does it,” – Juan Miranda Professional baseball player, who drives in Mr Khalid’s cab during the day.

His passengers on twitter “Sweetest ride in fifteen years. Left my bag of knitting there, but gained so much at heart when I googled you. God bless.”

Categories: Altruism, Compassionate Skills, Courage, Gratitude | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Taking compassion to a new level

While some of us strive to be as compassionate as possible – a kind word here, a helping hand there, perhaps a smile at a stranger passing by – others aim to encourage acts of compassion in others, perhaps through campaigns in schools, discussions in homes, teachings in places of worship. We often find ourselves limited in our reach and the kindness we can bestow. So, to develop an entire compassionate village would be taking compassion to a whole new level and not to mention an extraordinary feat in itself – something Naween Mangi has managed to achieve  through the collaboration of the Ali Hasan Mangi Memorial Trust and the people of Khairo Dero.

Khairo Dero is a village near the city of Larkana in the province of Sindh.  Like many other villages in Pakistan, Khairo Dero lacked the basic facilities which most urbanites take for granted, such as clean drinking water, electricity, basic healthcare, infrastructure and other necessities.

Naween Mangi, a financial journalist, set up a trust – the Ali Hasan Mangi Memorial Trust, a nonprofit organization – in the memory of her late maternal grandfather, Mr. Ali Hasan Mangi, a philanthropist, businessman and politician. She took the initiative of developing and transforming Khairo Dero through compassion; highlighting the principal that lies at the heart of all religions: to treat others as we wish to be treated ourselves. Keeping in mind this golden rule, Khairo Dero has now become the first compassionate village in the world.

What is most commendable about this effort is the fact that development also targets the mindsets of people. Very strategically, in every phase of progress, the psyche of the villagers has been kept in mind and issues have been addressed accordingly. This is where true compassion lies, as it provides sustainable development in the lives of the villagers.

The first phase of development focused on providing clean drinking water, which was nearly 80 to 100 feet below ground. To tackle this situation, hand pumps were installed in 150 households, followed by a water purification unit. The villagers were asked to provide food and shelter for the workers who came to install the hand pumps. This way the villagers learnt that they would have to put in some effort in order to get what they want, rather than expecting free gifts or favors; they were taught to be self sufficient.

The next phase focused on sanitation. The Orangi pilot project helped design a wastewater treatment unit to handle sewage. As waste used to be collected in a pond, it would flood into people’s homes when it rained. Now, the water is purified by the villagers and, due to its fertile nature, used for irrigation and farming.

Khairo Dero Photos

The Citizens Foundation (TCF) is running the primary school, which was set up (funded) by Ali Hasan Mangi Memorial Trust (AHMMT). One government school is run by AHMMT through an adoption program. These schools have been managed with the right teachers and the right structure. For higher education, funds are provided to interested students. Moreover, an adult literacy program has been introduced that initially only attracted women, but has now managed to grab the attention of men as well.

Khairo Dero does not yet have sufficient hospitals, but volunteers in the village take patients to nearby cities for treatment. Serious patients are taken to Karachi for treatment.

Khairo Dero is a work in progress. Despite the work already carried out and the compassion that villagers show towards each other, there is still room for improvement, especially in the mindsets and behaviours of the villagers. Recently, a small park was built to tackle the issue of lack of compassion in the children of the village. As children are the building blocks society, it was decided that compassion should be taught in schools and the local community centre. One of the initiatives includes a journal maintained by the coordinator at the community center. There are sessions where children relate their acts that are recorded.

Naween Mangi deserves great credit for setting up the Ali Hasan Mangi Memorial Trust, and taking this initiative of creating a model village based on compassion for the people of Khairo Dero. She believes in improving the lives of people as a whole. While NGOs usually provide certain facilities in different impoverished areas, they tend to neglect the other deeper issues. In Khairo Dero, however, Naween plans on tackling the deeper issues of the village and their root causes as well, ultimately making the villagers self-reliant, content and, ultimately, compassionate.

Khairo Dero Photos 2

Naween often talks about feeling overjoyed when she saw a grown man holding a pencil for the first time in his life and drawing a line. She also quoted a lady in the village who was really satisfied with her progress in life and believed that she had reached great heights of success which couldn’t be compared to the greatest of rulers of our times.

Real compassion lies in practicing compassion as well as encouraging others to act compassionately and making a mark on the world; much akin to a tree which benefits all those who seek its shade or wish to enjoy its fruits. Naween’s act of compassion has not only changed her life, but has also managed to involve countless others to show compassion in painting a whole village with the colours of compassion.

Categories: Altruism, Compassionate Skills, Courage, Gratitude, Humility, Mindfulness, Self Compassion | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

Compassion – as Farhat sees it

Farhat Rasheed is one of the most inspiring individuals I have come across. The confidence, compassion and courage she embodies and exhibits are remarkable; her passion for the betterment of society is truly commendable.  Her positive attitude and drive is what sets her apart from the masses. She is making ripples all over Karachi, aiming to bring about a wave of change in the mindsets of Pakistani society. Representing all the qualities that define compassion, Farhat is our compassionate personality for this month.

*Beep beep* went the metal detector when my colleague and I entered the Unilever office, located inside one of Karachi’s most prestigious hotels. We told the receptionist the purpose of our visit and within a minute we were shown to a quaint little conference room.

Farhat, Assistant Brand Manager soon wheeled in with a welcoming smile. Farhat has Cerebral Palsy by birth. As we started talking, she explained Cerebral Palsy children can be mentally and physically challenged. In Farhat’s case, however, it has affected only her movement and it is managed through regular physiotherapy.

Farhat Collage 1


Though she has been through much, she is kind and gracious; grateful for the support of her family, friends and all the people who have encouraged her. Farhat studied at the Centre of Advanced Studies (The C.A.S School) until she completed her O-Levels. She fondly recalled the teachers and classmates who helped her through her studies. She told us how the school had been accommodating enough to schedule her classes in one classroom, located on the ground floor, for four years due to her condition. When she required extra time in class and academic help, her teachers had been very understanding and facilitating.

For her A-Levels, Farhat had wanted to go to the prestigious schools like Lyceum, Karachi Grammar School (KGS), but because of lack of accessibilities in such high profile institutions, she was not able to find her place.  She courageously tried school after school until she finally got admission into Foundation Public School, where she finished her high school studies very comfortably.

Two years later, applying for university, she again found herself faced a new set of challenges. She applied to Karachi’s finest business school, the Institute of Business Administration (IBA), where, once again due to lack of facilities for the wheelchair access, she could not attend. Unwavering, she applied to the Institute of Business Management (IoBM) which had ramps and lifts in every building, where she learned much more than just academics. Farhat gained even more confidence; the shy little girl became talkative and learned to fend for herself. She equipped herself with the skills to face life’s challenges and fight her battles. Once again, through her compassionate nature, hard work, dedication and passion for life, she won the hearts of her peers and teachers, who ended up supporting her and guiding her wholeheartedly through her university years. During her studies, Farhat managed to earn herself a place on the highly-coveted internship program at Unilever’s where she eventually landed herself a job after graduation.

Through her experiences and achievements, Farhat has always remained humble, carrying herself with humility, dignity and grace. Farhat understands that she has been one of the few lucky ones in our society: she has been given the right kind of exposure; her affluent background allowed her to attend some of the best institutes; and not to forget her family’s constant support and encouragement for all her personal projects and initiatives. Farhat’s experiences have transformed her into the epitome of compassion: she now personifies traits of courage, empathy, humility, gratitude and a passion to make the world a better place.

In a society like Pakistan Farhat has had to fight hard for the basic rights of people with disabilities. She has a full time job, does physiotherapy every day, leaving her with barely enough time for herself. And yet, she still manages to fight for causes, raise awareness and help others.

Farhat practices what is termed as ‘altruism’: the practice of selfless concern for the well-being of others. She does so by counseling people with disabilities and anyone who comes to her for guidance. She is a person so compassionate that anyone can discuss their troubles and concerns with her.

Farhat also manages an oragnisation called Show-You-Care (SYC). SYC is an organized society of young people working towards addressing the concerns of physically challenged people. SYC aims to impress upon the concerned authorities the need to provide proper accessibilities for the wheelchair bound people in public places, such as ramps and elevators. Through (SYC) she hopes to change the mindsets and attitudes of Pakistanis towards special people, especially since our society still has a very conservative attitude towards people with disabilities. She believes special people are not “Disabled” but rather “Differently Able”.  SYC has also made contributions twice to the flood victims in Pakistan (more information about SYC can be found on her website:

Farhat Collage 2

Recently, Farhat applied pressure on a number of restaurants, shops and malls to install ramps so as to make public places more accessible to special people. She was succesful in making ramps at: Pizza Hut (Mohammad Ali Society Branch), Shoe Planet, Chen One, the new Naheed Store, Gazebo, Hardees, Café 76 and Pond’s Skin Care Centre and Tony & Guy Salon at Dolmen Mall.

Farhat’s is a woman on a mission and her fight has not been easy; she requires all the support she can get. She is truly a brave individual with a desire to make a difference in her community. We support her and wish her best of luck in her struggles for this noble cause.

Categories: Altruism, Compassionate Skills, Courage, Gratitude, Self Compassion | Tags: , , , , , | 7 Comments

Thanking Jinnah – Father of the Nation

Imagine this:

As we celebrate sixty-five years of independence, we also celebrate the freedom to express ourselves, practice our religion, develop and cherish our nation, our culture. As we walk freely, no part of the country is off limits. We feel free to express our religious and political views; unafraid of religious discrimination, whether in our educational institutions or our workplaces. We paint the country green on the 14th of August, light up the sky with fireworks on New Year’s Eve and decorate our homes with candles on the 12th of Rabi-ul-Awal. Freedom is when we flood our cafés and street-side restaurants to watch team Pakistan play cricket. Or, when we unite to support our countrymen struck by natural disasters and in this unity we truly take pride in being Pakistanis. Or, when we relish in the success of a Pakistani filmmaker when she wins an Oscar. Imagine the taste of freedom such that we grow so accustomed to it that we take it for granted.

Gratitude for JinnahIt seems a far-fetched dream considering the Pakistan we see around us today. But, in fact, we are free individuals: our thoughts; our actions are not bound. For us the sky can truly be the limit, and all because of one man: Muhammad Ali Jinnah, revered as our Quaid-e-Azam (Great Leader) and Baba-e-Quam (Father of the Nation).

Jinnah was a man not only with vision that inspired a dream, but also a man with the drive to achieve that dream. He was selfless in his sacrifices for his people and courageous enough to always be truthful. People followed him and his ideals and eventually acquired a piece of land which they can now call their own.

Even after its creation, Pakistan desperately needed a charismatic leader and the Quaid fulfilled that need profoundly. After all, he was more than a mere Governor-General: he was the Quaid-e-Azam who had brought the State into being; he is after all the Father of the Nation. He worked hard until overpowered by age and disease and died on 11th of September 1948.  How true was Lord Pethick Lawrence – the former Secretary of State for India – when he said, “Gandhi died by the hands of an assassin; Jinnah died by his devotion to Pakistan”.

On the 25th of December, Pakistan observes the Quaid’s birthday as a national holiday and lets its heart swell with gratitude for the man who altered the course of history, modified the map of the world, created a nation state and yielded enormous power whilst remaining incorruptible. We, as Pakistanis, thank the Quaid for his dream and his struggles that gave us our homeland. But what would the Quaid say if he saw his beloved Pakistan today? He created a nation where he hoped love, unity and respect would flourish; and yet today we seem to stand divided. Divided in our beliefs, our values, our ideals, our dreams. The dream that gave us our identity and once united us has now left us disintegrated. Undeniably we come together as an unbeatable force in the face of disasters and national crises; showing the world our capabilities and our compassion for the suffering. But, how about pulsating together as one heartbeat as the norm rather than the exception?

This 25th of December why not make a pact to thank our Quaid by keeping his dream alive each and every day? Our lives and our destinies would perhaps have been very different if it had not been for him. Let us truly unite in the love we harbor for our Baba-e-Quam, as we appreciate him for all his sacrifices and devotion to the nation he created and called Pakistan.

Categories: Compassionate Skills, Gratitude | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Create a free website or blog at