Jashn-e-Faiz and ‘hamara mahol’
An insider’s view, excerpted from an email to CFD activists:
Many things didn’t work, but this was like a comma to our intention… Of course the schedule went for a six. Sameeta Ahmed and Afia Salam held talks on creating a National Consensus on the environment, recorded by a mobile phone. The crowd stayed. Tasneem Siddiqui, Naeem Sadiq, Sameer Dhodhy, myself and others spoke… We need public involvement as an integral and clean part of all schemes and projects, if they are at all to benefit the public and not hurt them, us, our city, and country. The Bhasha dam is in question, putting the downstream, as well as local people, environment, and heritage sites at grave risk…
Our short talks had blasted off without a sound system or electricity, and no multimedia. But people kept coming. Fariha Ubaid starting speaking on green buildings, green roofs the options for ordinary people, what are green buildings growing up to be like, how to protect from heat, and use energy and light better… and soon enough there was a crowd intrigued and wanting more.
The stalls were soon set with people crowding around the demos, with Ercelawn’s on-the-spot water disinfection, Ali Ansari cooking daal-roti and tea on the solar cooker, NED electronic Engg/IEEE students explaining away their gadgets on the environment. Toqeer’s boys from NED Env Engg had the water filter.
Meanwhile volunteers did a great job in pulling the groups of people in and signing them up for environmental causes! People crowded around to see how to grow pineapple in a pot. Other seminar organizers asked us to please send people their way. The plant exchange (soon to grow up to be a seed exchange) was a big hit. People carried as many pots as they could, although we didn’t sell as many seeds as we thought we could. And then we had electricity… LCD and the presentations were running.
All the sessions were great. Growing your own food organically, by Zahra – healthy vegetables (not grown on sewerage water) in these inflationary times – the Philosophy and mission of cycling in Karachi, by Rizwan and Amir – opposing the destructive nexus of builders, construction companies, oil lobbies, car retailers and the government – Naeem Sadiq on laying waste our planet with empty plastic bottles (not just Jashne Faiz which we estimated would leave 10,000 as waste after) – just Why Not [!] clean tap water which hundreds of times cheaper – the ever patient Sameer Dodhy stressing that we as citizens need to gang up and show the politicians and bureaucrats that they are our servants and we will stop their sacrilegious occupation of amenity plots (hospitals, parks…) in compromising positions with law-breaking madressas and mafias. Toqeer on how to clean your own water, re-use and recycle it too. And what a great job Shahid Mahmood was doing at Khuda ki Basti, inspired by Akhtar Hameed Khan, in getting a 2-3000 house locality to separate and recycle all waste. His boss had spoken earlier acknowledging the spirit needed to do all this at a greater scale… Mrs Raza of Mom’s Garden along with Adnan of Pineapples, in the spirit of DIY (Do-It-Yourself movement) showed with 20 pots, how to plant and grow food in pots, how to water, how to make organic pesticide and the conversations kept going…
Niilofur who had been talking about the environment activities for days on the media and Fariha who was sending volunteers and people our way from the media center, were fabulous! So was the volunteering spirit from the students.
At the end we gave away 150 free pots of pink red and purple petunia flowers to people absolutely surprised to run into us, and darted to get veggie seeds from Plant Exchange….
Thank you all, Niilofur, Madiha, Noman, and Firdous, and all other friends for bringing us in and letting us try this out… this can go places. I just regret not remembering to bring up Fukushima in our own context.
— Yasir Husain, Hamara Mahol