Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Laleh Habib reports on an Aman ki Asha and Rotary International initiative that will help children with heart defects, facilitate family and student exchanges, and more
‘There was an instantaneous meeting of minds,” commented Shahrukh Hasan, Group Managing Director of the Jang Group of Pakistan, talking about the strategic partnership between Aman ki Asha and the Rotary Clubs of Pakistan and India.
Some of the parameters of this newly formed partnership include setting up 30 state-of-the-art eye hospitals in Pakistan, establishing family and student exchanges between India and Pakistan, and developing Youth Leadership Awards. A major component of this project, the ‘Gift of Life’ programme, aims at facilitating 200 heart surgeries a year in India for underprivileged children from Pakistan – totally free of cost.
“And 200 is just a conservative estimate, a launching pad,” said Kamal Sanghvi, trustee of the Rotary Indian Humanitarian Fund (RIHF), who was in Karachi last week to sign the Memorandum of Understanding. “There is no time to breathe,” he added, laughing.
Given Rotary and Aman ki Asha’s shared goals of bringing people and communities together and promoting peace, this is a very natural partnership.
Rotary International has a proud legacy of promoting cultural exchanges, building ties and promoting philanthropy that stretches over a century. Aman ki Asha, the peace initiative launched by the Jang Group and the Times of India on January 1, 2010, seeks to promote peace between India and Pakistan by creating an enabling environment for dialogue and developing people-to-people contact at all levels.
There is tremendous affinity and goodwill between the people of the two countries, as evident not only at many Aman ki Asha events but also at other Indo-Pak peace initiatives – an affinity and goodwill that is constantly stymied by inertia or hostility at the government level, that dampens the people’s aspirations and frustrates and thwarts many good intentions. ‘We need some victories,’ goes the oft-repeated refrain.
This is what makes the Aman ki Asha and Rotary Club Partnership so significant – the partnership leverages the respective strengths of both organisations and of the two countries to benefit some of the most vulnerable in both societies. This is a partnership that will utilise the extensive network of the Rotary Club and the reach of the Jang Group to the benefit of those who need it the most.
Rotary International has been actively facilitating exchanges between India and Pakistan since March 2000, when Rotarians from Pakistan and India came together to sign the Karachi Declaration and discuss ways in which the countries can cooperate on all levels. Rotarians from Pakistan and India have also signed friendship treaties that aim to promote peace through community service. Additionally, Rotarians from Pakistan and India have implemented various family exchanges, youth exchanges and many community service projects. Rotarians from India have sponsored heart surgeries for over 150 children from Pakistan. Through matching grants, Rotary Pakistan has supported surgeries for many children in India.
For just over a year now, Aman ki Asha has been highlighting the cost of the conflict through various events, programmes and an intensive media campaign. The campaign has illustrated the many social, economic, political and personals benefits of peace. In May 2010, Aman ki Asha helped facilitate medical treatment for three-year old Rayyan, who had to go to India for a cochlear implant.
Events such as these and the scores more that are to follow as a result of the Aman ki Asha and Rotary Club partnership, constitute the real victories in a personal sense and in the context of Indo-Pak relations. They will give hundreds the opportunity to lead a normal, healthy life, and will restore hope to scores of families. This is a partnership that will tangibly show the innumerable, immeasurable benefits of peace and of corporation.
‘This partnership will,” as Kamal Sanghvi put it smilingly, “bring the Aman into Aman ki Asha.”