Helping to build a better community…and maybe the nation as well
“It greatly worries me that sixty years after its independence, Pakistan is still an unstable country,” Haseeb Qazi says. When Haseeb was a boy, hordes of refugees poured into the area around Peshawar, a hundred kilometers from the border with Afghanistan. A shortage of jobs and a scarcity of food, water, and shelter led to high crime rates. Electricity and gas were considered a luxury. Many men treated women unfairly, and the infrastructure for basic health was nonexistent. “Every morning I would rise to a warm sun, only to read about brutal and dark realities that affect my country.”
Haseeb vowed to help people and, to that end, excelled in school, becoming Head Boy at Edwards College in 2002. His diligence led to scholarships, and he earned a gold medal, placing first in his A-levels. His fellow students elected him parliamentary president of the debating society.
Haseeb found wisdom in Ghandi’s idea of “being the change you wish to see,” and on December 5th, 2005, he enrolled in the Khyber Medical College in Peshawar, majoring in medicine with an emphasis on surgery. Right away, he joined the International Federation of Medical Students Association—IFMSA, recognized by the World Health Organization—and the Social Welfare Society, soon becoming its assistant director. Additionally, he served as editor of Cenna Magazine and joined the Student Learning Forum, winning math and science competitions.
Despite his collegiate activities, Haseeb worked on numerous projects of social benefit. In a tuberculosis awareness project, he acted in a play performed in a village hospital’s pediatric ward to acquaint victims and their families about the prevention and treatment of TB. Working jointly with other NGOs, Haseeb’s IFMSA community projects have targeted health education, awareness of children’s rights with the aim of preventing child abuse, emotional health, and the prevention of gender violence. He’s also helping with a transnational workshop on the influence of studying on student health and has organized Fun Fair 2007, maintaining positive thinking and activities despite the disasters around him.
Also in 2007 Taliban fighting erupted in the beautiful Swat Valley. Hundreds of innocent people were killed and two million people in the region left their homes rather than be ruled by the Sharia laws that forbid the education of women and punished barbers and music store owners with death. Sunni and Shia riots claimed the lives of thousands. In December of that year, Benazir Bhutto was ruthlessly murdered. Haseeb, along with many of his countrymen, was appalled. He set about working on the “World Peace Project” with two friends from medical school, leading to a workshop on conflict resolution. “I no longer want to sit back. I feel strongly for the newborn, widows, and orphans,” Haseeb says. He wants to see “a better life for my sisters, where they are not cautious of every step taken under a stern male eye.” He knows he can’t promise to bring dramatic changes to his country, but through organizations like IFMSA, he can launch programs that help bring change to his community, which may, in turn, also contribute to the success of Pakistan.