Penniless Tycoon – The Man behind the vision of fight for zero Thalassemia

A local boy deriving from a poor background believed in the power of his dreams ever since he was a child. There was a strange spark in him, which kept him going despite the financial struggles he faced being the son of a shepherd. Starting his education in a dilapidated government school in a village.

This ordinary boy studied his early early education in a basic government school. He then went on to study grades 3-4 in a local sub standard school. Then to his luck, he was given a chance to gain an education at the then-prime Minister’s school, ‘Sharif Educational Complex’ on scholarship till O-level. He achieved the highest results in the school’s history and as a result, he was given a scholarship for his A-levels at Lahore Grammar School, where he aced all the academic and extra curricular subjects. He gained a partial scholarship for for his university degree. By gaining a partial scholarship and gathering finances over two years, he began his journey in pursuing an electrical engineering degree at the University of Central Punjab, Lahore.

It was back in those days in the year 2010, when an idea changed his life forever. The Fatmid Foundation’s representatives visited his university on a basic practise of an awareness campaign in regards with thalassemia. Sometimes, it is a little thought that can connect to someone’s mind and heart, and that is exactly what happened at the time, which initiated the idea in the mind of the students for running their own awareness drive on thalassemia in their university.

The journey of JZT (Jehad For Zero Thalassemia) started and Ghulam Dastgir, who is now a full-time teacher says “It really took off. I remember a lot of students at the university wanting to donate blood, whilst others wanted to raise money for kids battling with Thalassemia. It was meaningful work and it resonated with all of us.”

From a small group of friends with very limited resources, a dream launched to visualise a battle against thalassemia.

Thalassemia, an inherited blood disorder in which the body produces an abnormal form of haemoglobin is vividly present in Pakistan with more than 100,000 thalassemia major patients. Almost 6500 inflicted are born each year, and there is a major lack of awareness in the society which is affected by this disease. The fundamental difficulty faced by Dastgir and his team involved conveying the message out to families that their daughters must be tested before marriage to rule out the chance of being a carrier. Families would take this offensively and feel disrespected. It is vital that carriers of thalassemia minor do not have biological children together, however very few people are concerned about this fact.

So, JZT was formed with the purpose to create awareness about this disease and the crucial need of getting premarital testing. This foundation is also managing their free blood donor database all over Pakistan. They have accomplished to arrange more than 50,000 blood bags over a decade. They have built a vast network to reach out to people even in Fata, Gilgit Baltistan and Azad Kashmir.

From a small group of peers to a network of over 7000 volunteers, JZT is serving the affected people all over Pakistan with utmost courage and humanity. Totally funded by its alumni and the generous volunteers, JZT has been able to launch the first ever ambulance service in Fata to provide free pick and drop services to the thalassemia patients. The organization has a child adoption program named “Each one Ease one” in which the volunteers have adopted over 500 kids, and their blood, medication and in some cases, the educational expenses are managed by the foundation. This programme has benefitted numerous families, who were suffering alone. Now, JZT is a part of their journey. Recognising the efforts of the JZT, Punjab Thalassemia Prevention Programme (PIPP), has signed MOU with JZT for free extended family screening all over Punjab.

Today, on World Thalassemia Day, I would like to acknowledge the sincerest efforts of JZT and its force. A story of passion with perseverance, Dastgir is a great example for any person who thinks they are not capable enough of doing something big in their life. All you need is a goal and the right measures to steer your ambitions in the right directions. It also gives a very beautiful message that one doesn’t always need money to be rich. His profound investments for the sake of humanity are his assets and the respect, blessings and prayers that he has earned, amount to the best wealth in the world.

While he wishes for a thalassemia-free Pakistan, he knows there is a long way to go. The man behind the idea of JZT, Dastgir, is an inspiration for all the youth out there. He showcases the power of true determination, self-belief and channelizing your energies for the betterment of your country. We all want our county to prosper, but very few people will actually step ahead to bring about a change. Let us all pray and hope for a healthy, disease-free Pakistan.

The team of JZT have also contributed to the organisation of a variety of events, which can be seen below.

More than 50,000 trees were planted over the last two years by the JZT force for a greener and healthier Pakistan.
Marathon arranged by JZT to spread awareness for thalassemia

A fantastic team and organisation. I hope we can all support such great causes and aid them by doing our bit by spreading awareness!

– Fatima Ali

The Little Smiles That Won My Heart – Laughter Galore With The Poverty Stricken

Murree hill station, situated on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan.

Last year during the summer vacations, I was lucky enough to visit my homeland, Pakistan. Touristing different regions of Pakistan, this district in particular won my heart.
Those who reside in Pakistan, or anyone who has visited Murree previously will tell you just how captivating this place truly is! Murree is a mountain resort town possessing the most attractive sceneries!
I better not go into the details of how mesmeric this place is, and rather tell you what happened that day and how those very specific smiles enraptured my heart.

There was a slight breeze that evening, I vividly remember. I was strolling down the desolate streets of Murree, admiring the ways in which the brown fronted woodpeckers (a common bird species found in this hilly region) were fluttering around ever so carelessly flaunting their beautiful wings, and they quite evidently seemed so hassle-free.
A momentous feeling of envy and I closed my eyes to fantasise being able to spread my wings and fly away and with a very heavy heart, I imagined the wind blowing away all of my worries as I flew away.
My fantasies were disrupted with a faint sound of giggling. I opened my eyes in curiosity and to my surprise, there were a group of local girls, who instantly caught my attention. They were laughing around playfully and having the time of their lives! I couldn’t stop myself and rushed over in excitement to initiate a conversation with them, which I will never be able to forget!
Sometimes, conversations with strangers become so meaningful!
They told me so many things about themselves, the local area and the hardships they suffer in their daily lives. Their eyes were shining with glee and their faces were beaming with utter joy.

Their positive attitude despite the hardships they faced left a huge imprint on my heart and they gave me the much needed realisation of how blessed I am in every way. Their little smiles which spoke a thousand unsaid words of gratitude, their angelic hearts and glistening eyes, rather magically diminished my worries.

We always complain about our little issues and do not see the bigger problems other people face in their lives. These innocent girls taught me such a great lesson in life – that you do not need a reason to be happy. I had this picture clicked back then and have preserved it for a lifetime. Whenever I am feeling distressed, I take a look at this picture and remind myself that happiness is not dependent on the length of purpose. Happiness is to fill your heart with gratitude, only then we will begin to appreciate the blessings around us.

Fatima Ali

When you support a small business you’re supporting a dream

We live in a world where people’s dreams matter to them more than anything else. We, human beings all share one thing in common, and that is the eagerness to achieve a set goal. It takes a single moment to visualise a dream of your life, but it takes a long while to turn that dream into a reality. No matter how big or small, bizarre or absurd, everyone has that one ambition in their life, which is always etched in their hearts forever. To reflect that engraving on your heart, it requires that one impulsion, and you are ready to set off on the journey of finding a way to fulfil those dreams.

Today, I aim to honour each and every small business around the world, those who have dared to live the dream of their life. Through this platform, I intend to acknowledge their countless efforts, dedication and resilience.

William Campbell, April 2020

A maiden venture is always experimental, and entrepreneurs are not always sure whether they will be able to take that first step or not. There is a slight reluctance, indecisiveness, hesitation and anxiousness around them. They have an idea of what they want to do, but they are unsure whether they will be able to affiliate their vision with their clients. Success, fame, profit, and so on, are all secondary concerns, in contrast to the main one they seek for, which is growth. When they begin their journey, they have to start from scratch. So, when these entrepreneurs think of a venture, the planning involves a great amount of uncertainty.

The fear that strikes them is not to prove to people that they can do it, but first to prove to themselves that they have that level of competence to step into the vast business world.  From a shaky start to a slow growth, they strive to make their mark in today’s competitive business industry. The struggle becomes real as there are plentiful businesses out there offering similar types of services or products as theirs, and in the midst of all that crowd, they have to make their presence felt and honoured. Trials, obstacles and setbacks are a part of their journey, but what they learn from these vital experiences are the key to their success, as nothing substitutes experience. What keeps them going is persistent hard work and patience, as they lack basic resources to advertise and market themselves as the larger companies tend to do.

They literally run on word of mouth and they rely solely on social media for depicting their work. They closely aim on building rapport with their customers, who they sometimes know personally, and they try their very best to accommodate to their needs in every possible way. With every order they receive and cater for, they anticipate a message of appreciation, which gives them a boost, as well as the encouragement to build on their work with a feeling of contentment. Despite a limited clientele and inadequate profits, they still float on the surface amidst these struggles. It is the endurance and courage that saves them from sinking. 

Hence proven, all you need in order to transform your vision into a reality is a skill and a strong belief in your capabilities. Do not let anyone put you down and make you feel as though you cannot make it through.
Paulo Coelho rightly states: “Everybody has a creative potential and from the moment you can express this creative potential, you can start changing the world.”

I am so proud of all the entrepreneurs that I know, and those I don’t know. I would like to extend my best acknowledgement to each and every one of them.

Whether you are baking a fancy themed cake for a child’s first birthday, or you are capturing someone’s fairy-tale wedding through the lens of a camera, you are preserving someone’s jubilations, as memories for a lifetime! While you carefully design bespoke hampers or are decorating and adorning a banqueting hall for someone’s special day, you must take pride in beautifying and embellishing one’s most awaited occasion, and the joy you bring to the hearts of those involved will always be cherished. As a caterer, when you fill your grocery cart and get ready to spice up an event with your mouth-watering dishes, or as you sell clothing and other products online, you must know that you are meeting someone’s requirements, whilst they sit in the comfort of their own homes! Whether you are a talented make-up artist, who is glamming someone up on a particular day, or you are a DJ, who creates the celebratory ambience to make everyone rejoice on your electrifying tunes on someone’s big day, each and every small business has its own significance in our lives. Thank you to each and every one of you for adding a great deal of worth to our community!

We are all aware of these unprecedented times, and the predicament due to Covid-19, and how people from the small local entrepreneurs to the enormous multinational companies, how everyone has been affected. While this dilemma has put the sturdiest businesses on the brink of being as vulnerable as the frailest ones, let’s ensure that the small businesses in our respective communities are recognised and supported, so that their hard-earned names and laurels never fade away. Please, let’s take a moment to applaud each business entrepreneur you know, or any small businesses you have ever come across. Let us acknowledge their true essence and bring a positive change in the great world of business. Let’s pledge to offer our utmost support and respect to these very hard-working, dedicated and inspiring entrepreneurs.

Let’s encourage and promote the small businesses around us. While we are all fond of tagging the big designer brands when we use any of their products, consider giving a recognition to any local products or services that you have used. Follow them on social media, give them truthful reviews, and support them by appreciating their work. Remember, when you purchase from the “big labels”, you do not have the option to negotiate with the prices. You simply pay what they demand. Therefore, I urge you, when dealing with these small-scaled businesses, try not to adapt penny-pinching to bargain with them, as they already have reduced profit margins. Last but not the least, let them know that they are valued!

The Dusk will disperse and the Dawn will arise

The sole matter that is entrenched everywhere is about the chronograph that has paused the world with perplexity, Covid-19. We have been shifted into these strange and unprecedented times only under a small fraction of time.

Through this medium, I aim to dust some hope in these tough times. Sometimes a national catastrophe comes at a specific country but this Coronavirus is a pandemic.

It’s not only you and people around you who are affected. It’s affecting everyone globally. People from all classes, businesses from the small local entrepreneurs to the gigantic multinational companies, everyone is impacted. From the scale of a personal household to the strong economies, everyone is influenced by its severe consequences.  This dilemma has put the sturdiest countries on the brink of being as vulnerable as the frailest countries. The long-term effects are yet to follow economically, socially and mentally. 

So, what can one do about it? Well, no one can give a precise response on that as uncertainty prevails across. All one can do is to just sit back, breathe, reflect, pray and patiently wait for things to drive back in the right direction. It is not as convenient as it sounds but while the mental health issues are on an upsurge, one must gather the sanity in place and maintain composure. Stressing about it and how it will affect one’s life and work will only make things worse.

 Even if not brighter than what it depicts in reality, let us look at the optimistic side of the picture.

These crises are going to teach you lifelong gratitude. Being thankful for being privileged enough to be in the comfort of your own home with adequate facilities. Holding the contentment of a basic plan to run your house expenses and having a stockpile of staple food to last for some days. Being able to carry out your favourite hobbies with your family in the isolation period. Having the approach to maintain hygiene and to have awareness about this ailment.  But then there are people who do not even have access to clean water and safe surroundings leave apart food or basic commodities. While many of you are moaning about working from home, take a moment to think about the plight of a daily wager who relies on a day-to-day income. He has no idea about what tomorrow will unfold for him and his family. Does life stop for them? No. Do their struggles ever end? Never.  These people should be our inspiration through these times as they strive to endure the hard circumstances.
So many of them do not even have the prerogative to prepare themselves for such a catastrophe. Now it is our moral duty to acknowledge the blessings we have and wholeheartedly support everyone who is in need at this time. Communities have shown great support to help each other and we must make this a permanent thing in our respective societies.
These crises will also show us how to seek positivity from others. China is one such example that suffered the first and the major outbreak with this virus. They joined together and with the right directives they pulled out of this predicament giving a hope to the entire world that with responsible measures you can fight it off too. Now China is supporting other nations by sending them the protective gear and medical teams for assistance to combat the Coronavirus.

Most importantly, this arduous period will edify us to recognise our true dynamisms.

We human beings have been born with the tremendous energy to bounce back from situations. We tend to break, we cry, we sulk but then we exhibit our ability to put our shattered pieces back together and perform. This is indeed human resilience. We must instil positivity and believe in our strength to overcome this squall.

The catastrophe and fright this virus have brought all over the world will only bring out the best side of people and make this world a better place to live in.
The only thing which is disturbing and yet assuring is that everyone in the world is under the same consternation so more or less we are all sailing in the same boat. We can look up to each other for motivation, support and guidance.

Through this channel I also want to express my heartfelt gratitude to all the amazing people who are working at the frontline in these times of crisis. Once we all overcome this, history will narrate the definition of heroes as Doctors, Nurses, health care workers, carers, teachers, public safety and national security forces. Please let us also acknowledge the delivery drivers, postmen, utility and transport workers, essential shops staff etc who are all playing a vital role in keeping the life rolling.  Thoughts and prayers are with everyone.

I remember something that Mr. Junaid Jamshed once tweeted about the uncertain situations and it etched somewhere deep in my heart. I hope it gives hope to everyone. 

“What is faith? Faith is seeing Light with your heart when all your eyes can see is darkness. It’s the Greatest gift.”

I would like to request everyone to recognize this beautiful gift that is faith which is indeed the driving force in the fiercest of tempests. Keep the spirits high as we all will pull through this storm together. While we live to perceive that a sunrise has to follow every sunset, good times will unfold and we will only be stronger and humbler than ever, just believe.

Hi! I am Fatima Ali …

I am based in Manchester. I pen down my thoughts in an effort to create a safe space to explore what we talk/think about.

I started blogging as I have a passion for writing. I love to pen down my thoughts and feelings!

I hope you will enjoy reading my posts and your feedback is very welcome!