During the month of Ramadan, the Charter for Compassion – Pakistan is celebrating acts of compassion in everyday life. Here at ThinkChange Pakistan, we thought we’d put a different spin on it and look at the role compassion plays in inspiring and motivating social entrepreneurs.
Ambreen Rahman (GreenRoshni):
I grew up without a father, my mother suffered from PSTD (post-traumatic stress)
and our family lacked financial security. Despite these hardships I was able to advance in life based on the compassion and trust of others-from relatives, to teachers, to government and institutional policies and approaches that enabled me to realize my goals.
My desire to work with underprivileged populations – by teaching children in one of the poorest neighborhoods in NYC, or by working with rural indigenous communities in neglected areas of Pakistan or with youth in prison in Texas – is closely tied to the compassion I received in my life and my desire to provide others with a similar helping hand.
For me compassion (not sympathy) have been the core of my stepping against my own tribal customs. I haven’t understood yet why, but living among people in pain and women under strict laws my life have been different in every aspect from them. I got freedom, education, opportunities to speak out my heart and to make decisions regarding my life…All this when leading me to a future different then all the other girls in my community actually led me to a feeling that I would never forget. And that was compassion for those around me who were less fortunate and then to get me back to my community and strive to do anything to help them in their lives.
From my own life as well as from others, I have learned a great deal about compassionate people which is no matter who they are and where they are, if they have the right feelings and an extreme urge to help out people or to stop the suffering of others, they are capable of making the biggest change possible. Because then its not them but their passionate feelings taking charge and looking for every opportunity and every step around them to help achieve the goal they see.
As a child I was told I was supposed to wear others shoes to see how they felt but later I understood that compassion actually isn’t just about wearing their shoes its about taking the place of that person in pain from the very day we come across them until the day we are able to make this person happy again so it nudges us and makes us uneasy till we are able to do our best to heal their suffering a bit. I have had to take the places of thousands of girls and women around me, I still am, living with them in their spirits, with their feelings and in their frightened heart beats and I am trying my best every second to do anything that I can to bring the satisfaction that would prove that change is happening.
The urge one feels to improve lives of those affected by a social problem, is rooted in compassion. Compassion opens a window for most individuals to be moved to an extent that they wish to challenge the status quo and seek opportunity even in adversity. One can even say that it is a key ingredient for innovating and being committed to impact.
At Ghonsla compassion drives our vision for providing insulation to increase the quality of life for people at every level of society, conserve precious environmental resources and create opportunities for micro-entrepreneurship to empower others. When leading an organization, it provides the platform to engage with others in a way that is inclusive and based in trust. Our success lies not in the revenue we generate from the sales of the insulation but the value that we create for our customers, partners, employees and communities.
I am really disturbed by the social disparities in Pakistan, and by the contrast between myself and millions of underprivileged girls who will never get a basic education. Having been fortunate enough to attend one of the best schools in the US, I feel a deep sense of compassion when I hear the numerous stories of girls who make unimaginable sacrifices to attend school — masking themselves as a boy, losing a family member to extremist entities that opposed female education, engaging in laborious, exploitative work to generate an income.
I’m driven by a world vision – that of no girl left behind, of every young girl able to define the course of her own life. Compassion guides me in my work every day, in making decisions that best serve the beneficiary communities, in refining our model as we better understand their needs, and in relating their struggles and dreams to those who want to help.
In part, my motivation for choosing this life-path is my love for the work – it’s real, it’s meaningful, it’s gratifying, and I get inspired every single day by the courageous girls I work with and for.