Email from my friend Niaz in Pakistan entitled 'Our bad':
"I have a friend here in university from South Korea he is also my hostel fellow. [ . . . ]
Just two days ago a Pakistani who was working [in his and his compatriots'] office took away 2000 dollars from accounts [ . . . ] his friends are now wraping their business and they have decided to go away to a new market because they say its difficult for them to continue business in Pakistan because of such things, Ameen said my friends didn't wanted to hire people from Pakistan but it was because me who recommended Pakistani and asked my friend to hire Pakistani people.now he is ashamed of [ . . . ] living in Pakistan.'
- - - - 16:17:
An email from Fletcher Dean Bosworth announces the death of a Fletcher alumnus killed in service in Afghanistan. Richard, my Ugandan suitemate, explained that he brought the death to the administration's attention. He had witnessed the killed alumnus in action in Uganda, and had seen his commitment to humanitarian work.
'Dear Fletcher Classes of 2002, 2003 and 2004:
It is with deep sadness that I write to inform you of the loss of one of
your Fletcher classmates, Ben Sklaver, F03. As many of you may know, Ben
was an Army Captain who had worked at the Center for Disease Control and
was deployed to Afghanistan for his second tour of duty. He was on
patrol this past Friday in Muscheh, Afghanistan, when his unit was
While at The Fletcher School, Ben focused on Security Studies and
Humanitarian Studies. In 2007, while working at the CDC in Atlanta and
serving in the U.S. Army ROTC, Ben founded the Clearwater Initiative, a
non-profit that works to bring clean water to thousands of people in
Uganda. Fletcher alumni, Chamsai Menasveta, wrote to us and said that
Ben, "personified in every sense the 'leader with a global perspective'
that is the hallmark of Fletcher."'
- - - -
Email from Niaz in Pakistan again:
'I am a pukhton living in Islamabad for my studies here. When i hear about discrimination with muslims and specially Pakistani students in UK or USA or any part of the world when they talk on such topics and talk against these countries i just smile on them,i smile because they want justice from foreign countries and they condemn discrimination but they dont know the way they discriminate us here in islamabad.They dont want to be friends of us they joke on us and they call us terrorists as the operations are going on in NWFP, how i feel when they say such words.these people should think positive about us,first they shouldn't discriminate then they can complain about rest of world.I was Class Representative in my first semester which is just as a class leader and i was forcely stepped down by them because i am pukhtoon."
I see this video
posted on one of Joya's recommended blogs. It's of a Polish engineer, speaking to the camera before he was beheaded by the Pakistani Taliban.
- - - -
Besides feeling sad, I am thinking about why I feel so very, very discouraged.
It is because I am, essentially, at a missionary school, surrounded by people who will join or rejoin international organisations to bring about change in foreign lands. I myself want to bring about change in Pakistan, and yet these killings say that our help is not wanted.
But Richard tells me not to give up on "my" people, that those who killed were wrong, but they did so to feel empowered and to get their point across: they do not want outside interference. And I now remember words that Sharon sent me while she was training midwives in Afghanistan, the words of Lao Tsu.
Go to the people
Live with them
Learn from them
Start with what they know
Build with what they have
But with the best leaders
When the work is done
The task accomplished
The people will say
"We have done this ourselves!"
For all the good intentions of humanitarian organisations like the U.N., they make no effort to maintain a humble presence. For the time being, at least, it seems that the conspicuous approach does not fit well in a violence-plagued land of wounded souls.
Social business is an unexplored way in Pakistan. When social businesses are owned by employees and locals, they not only empower but also have the potential to improve lives inconspicuously. Feeling sad, yes. But not yet the time to feel deflated.