Why care for the poor?

Helping the poor, is vital for our progress.

All of us are leading such ‘busy’ lives, there is no time for anyone else. – Neither do we have time for our family members, friends, or community members – what to say about helping the downtrodden!

Analogy of a ship:

Usually, a ship has three decks. The elite are kept on the highest level with all the luxuries. Then the middle deck, for the middle class. Finally – the lowest deck with the lowest ‘class’  in it.
Naturally, the ship’s lowest deck is near the bottom of the sea, if something happens, they will be the first to sink. Also, their ignorance can cause  a hole too;  The story is the same for all ‘lower socio-economic levels in all countries.

Look at how we are  ‘managing’:

The poor class of societies, earn by serving us, working in our homes and workplaces by making our lives better. They do this so well, that many of us don’t want to go abroad. (As I write, my domestic help is going out in this hot sun, to do my market chores, while I sit in this air conditioned room writing.)

Mismanagement of resources:

However, another paradox is also taking place; When we are handing over our resources in the care of the illiterate ‘helpers’, there is a great deal of wastage. We are not realizing that though we are careful with water, gas and electricity conservation, our staff are very careless. They haven’t been made to realize its implications.

We have to educate them to conserve  the world resources . This is why even the educated homes have the same issues of lack of preservation of resources, because we leave all our assets in the care of illiterate staff, and do not bother to train them.

Our gross attitude towards the lower class:

We’ve got to treat every human being with respect and regard. This is where it begins.
The concept of disregard of the poor people in our society begins from saying: ‘they are like dogs, treat them like dogs, they will respect you more!’  If you are going to talk to them, like this, how will things improve for them?
• We literally use and abuse them, in our homes, offices and factories.
• We are not caring of their human rights and make them work beyond humanitarian levels. (Believe me, this goes on in Western countries too, especially with illegal migrants! Also with other employees from underdeveloped countries, who do not know their rights or are too afraid to mention it!)
• When these poor people grow old and weak, we let them go.
• We do not train them properly, nor educate them. So when they are lacking in productivity we get harsh and disrespectful towards them.
• Yes, we help them occasionally, and then let them spend rest of their lives, being obliged to us.
• We are not careful of their times of sleep, rest or food. Nor give health benefits.
• In short we do nothing for them. Leaving them to their own meager resources.

How the underprivileged survive?

  1. No family planning: Since they they are on their own, so they manage by creating their own helpers, reproducing like rabbits:
    o In the hope that these ‘hands’ will help them as free labor in their lives.
    o Take care of them when they fall sick or when they grow old and helpless.
    o They will be sources of income, as beggars, and domestic help. Today, girls are given as domestic help to families  through agents.
    o At worst they can be sold off for adoption or even prostitution.
    o I’ve seen Sri Lankan maids in Kuwait and other Gulf countries as full time maids. Most are treated very badly, even sexually abused on regular basis. Of course, some are well-treated by good families.
    2. Health benefits:Through quacks in the field or genuine ‘hakeems’ or experts in herbal treatments which is a science of millions of years actually.
    3. Spiritual healing: by visiting shrines and going to ‘faqirs’, or bathing in streams with ‘magical’ powers, (actually having minerals from underground, as sulphur in Mango Pir, Karachi.) They find solace through these places and people. Every area has a ‘mazar’ or a ‘pir’ where they go in hoards. Yes, Pir Chinasi, Data Darbar, – the whole region is full of them. These are shrines of great saints who once lived in these regions who listened to the problems of the people. They managed to console them, and give them solace.
    Note: These people are still thirsty for that kind of love and care. Today, free food and solace is found in these shrines, hence the people go there in hoards.

    Need for solutions: 

1.  Resources in hands of illiterate and untrained staff:
o Train staff well,
o Supervise often,
o Strict rules and time tables in homes and offices.
o Surprise checks.
o Rules of rewards and punishments for adhering to them or not.
2.  Quality of work suffering due to distraction of social media at all levels:While in offices, shopping, doing personal work and holidaying, what are we doing? We are busy with our social media. Constantly. It has become an epidemic.

My message here:

The message here is to continue with charity work  intelligently. Lets do it with focused objectives.

1. Stop beggary by children:
o Give them food, (let’s take along a leftover food or snacks for them, clean drinking water too. But not give cash. Once these beggar’s guardians and parents realize it is not working, it is bound to stop.
o Instead, pay those organizations and persons who have schools for such children;
o Do volunteer work with such organizations .

2. Education and skill development:
o Individually: teaching them ourselves, or keeping a tutor at home to teach staff. Giving them on-the-job training. Run your home like an institution.
o Collectively: in your own community give monthly fees for at least one or more children.
o Invest in technical training: so they can become independent and earn.
3. Entrepreneurship courses:
Such short courses would be best for teenagers of both genders to be able to start their own small business or assist their parents. This can be done in schools as part of the curriculum.
4. Help in marrying off their children:
Marrying off children is the biggest dilemma of every person in these parts. Somehow these expenses result in debts for a lifetime. So, if one can help them in any small way we can, it is good. Especially to help single parents to marry off their daughters in a dignified way. This is how one can be of great help:
o Getting things for the bride or groom.
 Clothes (12 suits for girl or 6 suits for young man.)
 Items for house: utensils, household goods, even furniture if you have it.
 Food for the event. ( Even Rs.10,000 can make a difference.)
5. Help in construction of their house:
o Either for whole house, or pay for some materials, etc.
o The idea is to help them gain a secure roof over their heads.
6. Give them a layette for the baby: If an employee is in family way, facilitate by giving less heavy work during pregnancy, and clothes and items for new baby.
7. Pay for health problems, operations etc. I know many organization do it, but many don’t.
8. Paying for water pump installation: This could help provide water for their requirements.
9. Educate them in family planning: the facilities are there, but they aren’t effective. We have to sit and convince them
10. Paying for higher education like PEF (Professional Education Foundation): This is the best way, to give scholarships to deserving students from schools for underprivileged children. There are negligible facilities for them available right now.

  • Stay blessed! 

Miracles of this Ramzan 2019

Assalam o Alaikum to you all!  We  are half way through Ramzan, the month of fasting for Muslims. Here in Islamabad it is from around 3.30 am till 7.07 pm. So it is 15.5 hours. I know it is up to eighteen hours in other parts of the world, like in Seattle. Surprisingly, It has been going really well, and full of beautiful miracles. Let me share some of these with you:  (others are in the pipe-line!)

1.     The water and accident incident:

Just look at this little incident that happened with me….

Last Saturday, I was going for art class to Rahi Studio. It was for  a landscape project. So, when I was about to leave home, I thought I’d take a magnolia flower bud for Hajra Apa. I broke one off the tree, and got my usual water bottle and put it in. At the gallery,  I took the flower out of the bottle, and went in to give it to Apa.

It was a joy to work on the painting, where my friend Salma gave me this canvas to work on. After the class, at the crossing near our home, I suddenly decided to go to my tailor to give  our Eid clothes . Afterwards,  as I was driving on the main Margalla road, enjoying the sight of scenic mountains; I saw a home delivery motorbike of a company ahead of me. Suddenly, I saw it getting out of control, and he toppled over.  The man fell on the roadside and then fell over the side, tumbling downwards on the slope beyond. I stopped my car a little ahead. I watched several bikers  stop and help the man get back to the roadside, next to his up-righted bike.

He sat  looking dazed. I took the water bottle, and offered him, he was fasting but gratefully accepted the water to splash it on his face.  He looked visibly improved, he returned the bottle to me.  I walked back to my car.

While driving back home, I went over the chain of events that brought me here at this moment. How it is God who makes us  do  things at certain times, to help His individuals.  This is why it is important to do what our heart tells us to do, because we know Who lives in our hearts, but we have yet to know, why He  prompts us!

Who knows, how many times He has helped us in this way. Then we wonder how the right person was there to help us when we needed it most!

Believe me, I’ve been a recipient so many times.

2.     Preparing trousseau for daughters of under-privileged persons:

Do, you remember how the wedding of two girls took place here, in Northern area, last month? We managed to get them lovely suits, cash for food and lots of things for home. All, thanks to the donations from you all, and specially from Aalia Janjua from California,  and  from my anonymous donors in Canada. There were  clothes from Uzma, Okasha and my mother and I also pitched in. May Allah help you all, for going out of your way for these people.

Since the wedding took place earlier than I expected, we ended up with extra donations. So, now I was ready to do the same for two more marriages! I drove off  around 10.30 pm and did shopping for them in my favorite shop in G-9 Markaz . Usually, I hate shopping, but this kind of shopping, I love. 🙂

So I got so excited when I was able to get quite a lot more  stuff within the same amount. All through meticulous planning alternatives with the salesman, Mudassar.  ( Yes, the one who gave Rs.1000 donation, last time.

He said:

‘People go for Umra spending so much, if they did such things it would change someone’s life. He said, God knows, if that Umra gets accepted by Allah, but such acts of making life easier for the underprivileged persons would definitely please Allah.’ So, he really helped me a lot, and I got two tea sets, one water-set, along with the dinner set of seventy-four pieces and three cooking pots’ set. Lots of knick knacks like kitchen knives, cooking and frying spoons, salt and pepper containers, and even lemon squeezers!

Meanwhile, Shazia Rizwan and her friends had collected some beautiful clothes, and cash for this wedding. Bisma also added some beautiful suits and shirts.

So, I’m all set for another wedding now. In fact, I was able to hand over to one mother who was very happy with the help.

Please note, it is not dowry, it is just a few things that any mother would love to give her daughter while seeing her off to start her new home. It is a privilege and honor for me, to be of help in this.

It may be noted, that I’ve never given any dowry to my own daughters who got married. Nothing was ever demanded either from the wonderful families. My daughters, Alhamdolillah, never faced any issues from their in-laws due to it. My daughters and I’m truly blessed. However, I love to help underprivileged persons, as they have serious issues, and I’m sure these things would be of great help for them.

3.     Distribution of Rations and food:

Every home in Pakistan, I’m sure provides rations for their staff and under-privileged persons living in their community during Ramzan. If nothing else, they will donate an amount which contributes towards food for poor in mosques. So, as I displayed a typical ‘pack’ to my followers on Instagram, several living abroad asked me to do the needful for them here. So, my staff would go and get the set and I’d look out for deserving families to give these rations to. Wives of drug addicts, widows, and individuals going through rough times, especially those who didn’t ask, but we could see they needed it. So that felt good.

4.      Clothes for CSS school children for Eid:


As you know, last Ramzan we managed to get Eid gifts for the CSS school children, you can read about them here.

This time Usman mentioned that it would be good to get clothes for them instead. I kept quiet. Clothes are a hassle, as the size and fit can be a big issue. ‘So, how will we do it?’ I wondered.  ( Just didn’t have the heart to say ‘no’ to Usman.) He is doing an impossible task of running a school for 170 underprivileged children.  So, I asked Asif my web expert, to please make a poster to share this idea with my friends and  followers.

Suddenly, I get this message on Instagram from a girl named Rimsha ….

‘I was thinking of getting clothes for CSS school children.’ My heart skipped a beat. ‘I’m a student of forth year in Arid University, Rawalpindi.’ I was thrilled. By now, she and her friends have gathered forty-seven dresses.

Then I got a call from  Shagufta Zafar,

‘Shireen, I’ve contacted a factory in Lahore, and I’ll be able to get about fifty clothes.’ Wow.

Then Andaleeb sent me  ten lovely clothes, all packed up. Ayesha gave me around fifteen.

Our target is achieved in half the time!!!!

As the target got achieved, I get this message from Inam Illahi – a new member of the Shireen’s Studio Group, ‘I’m sending sweets for the children at your address.’ So, hopefully, we shall have sweets in each parcel now, thanks to Inam!

5.     Food for the children:

My friend from Canada asked me to help with the wedding and food for CSS children.  (I’ve been asked by my Canadian donors to withhold their names.) Insha Allah we shall have the ‘deg’ ready for these children.  It is good to give them boxes with food so the whole family can share the food at home with them. These shall be given with the suits for Eid.

Can you feel that happy feeling creeping into your heart? This is how Usman has been giving food to his students earlier on:

6.     You make miracles happen:

So, now I know why Pakistan is the happiest country in this region. (This definitely includes all you Pakistanis who are living abroad and have your hearts still hanging in here.) It also includes all those who aren’t Pakistanis, still have a heart of gold eager to help those who needed their help.

I just love your  beautiful souls for having the will to help underprivileged children, and families. Wherever you are, find someone to help. I’m telling you, it is the easiest way to feeling great!

Yes, you are right. Lots more is cooking…. you’ll be updated soon. 😉

The card that accompanied the gifts of clothes for CSS school children from Andaleeb:

Naturally, I feel happy. Even though we can’t stop the rape, killings and horrible incidents happening around us. We can at least do our little bits to gladden a few hearts here and there.

Sometimes, that is enough.:)


The happiness formula 

Are you feeling unhappy?

Are you in session with a psychiatrist but find it hard coping with the days in-between?

Well, I have a homespun ‘therapy’ for all types of sadness and sicknesses.

It happens because we all want happiness. All we have to know is that we have it inside of us. It comes to us when we share it with someone else. Yes, when we give it out to someone else, by sharing their burdens and lessoning it in any way we can.

Just go out and do something for someone in trouble.

That’s all.

Go out and find something good to do for another’s life.  Help in lessening the burdens on the lives of those who don’t have a voice. They silently suffer their misfortunes.  You will find plenty of means for your own repair there. You will soon find out that there are a lot more broken up people out there. So stop weeping and wailing!

Here is my happiness theory:

As you get deeper into the process of helping others,  your own problems start melting into nothingness. You, yourself feel blessed. I mean, how? It happens because you realize how lucky you are.


Because of the prayers that come out in their hearts for you. The kind of prayers that Allah responds to! Believe me, when I responded to Sidra, I was knee deep into some work which was becoming down-right ‘impossible’ for me to accomplish. I was literally buried in several never-ending projects.

In the middle of it, I respond to this plea for help. I thought,’ as if I’m free and have no responsibilities!’ yet, I ran around for the two girls, and the wedding has already taken place. Miraculously, my mind became suddenly clear, and I found my work is also falling into place.

Their prayers?

They are working!

I agreed to help Sidra in marrying off two girls in Muzaffarabad area. They are daughters of a paralyzed woman who lost her husband and two sons in the earthquake of 2005. What touched me was the message that asked for clothes for the girls, even if they aren’t new, but are in good shape. So, my mum and I went to our cupboards, (yes, I wheeled her to her cupboard in her wheelchair,) we managed to dig out a few shirts and a suit. So, I wrote a hurried note on my Facebook page asking for any clothes.

There was no response for a few hours. I too, was busy in my own life. I had done all I could for the moment.

Soon I got messages. One student of mine,   contacted me whom I had taught interior designing and mentored in Finishing School.  She wanted to send me ten beautiful suits and accessories from Karachi. I received them the next day at 12.30 pm. I got so excited. Then, three suits arrived on my door step from Uzma. I loved the suits. So, between Sidra and myself and our friends, we had gathered about 24 suits by now – twelve suits for each bride. Sidra was busy getting the clothes altered to fit the girls, as they are very skinny. Also, she got shalwars and doputtas  for those shirts which didn’t have them.

I have a weakness, the moment I find out about an under-privileged girl getting married, I love to get her a dinner set. When I mentioned this to Sidra she said, well, why not a degcha set, as that would be more useful.  They had already received fruit sets, glasses etc. I was wondering which one to get, When Aaliya Janjua from California, USA, messaged me. She offered me a nice amount of dollars. The first thought I got was that now I could get a dinner set and pots and pans both for the girls! I got so excited that early next morning,  I dashed off to the market and got these from my  favorite shop in G-9 Markaz. Literally, the shopping was all done within an hour. Even the salesman there donated Rs. 1000 for this set. God bless him! 🙂 He said it made him feel happy to know that affluent families also give their time and efforts towards making underprivileged persons happy.

That night I was struck by how it had happened. How a humble desire to help an unknown person, ended with an amazing venture.  All within 30 hours. We ended up even having cash for the food to be offered for the wedding ceremony. As I write, the wedding ceremony would be on now.

Here you can see the two brides and their mother at the mehndi.


May Allah bring happiness to those girls. Ameen. I felt deeply happy.

It is important to realize that if you are feeling sad, or melancholy, just help in mending someone else’s broken heart … and your heart will automatically get mended. Because, you see, happiness is contagious. It is so contagious, that the magnolia tree in my lawn has started blooming as it has never bloomed in all these years! 🙂

So, in the end, thanks to all your donations, not only clothes but gifts for the bride and groom’s new home  were arranged, and food for the barat also!

There is a beautiful book called The Transformative Power of Crisis, written by Robert M. Alter with Jane Alter – a husband and wife duo who have written this amazing book – I read it many years ago. But that is more about how while going through a crisis you need to be mindful and make sure you use that crisis to improve your reaction. You need to transform yourself through the pain you experience.

When Imran Khan’s mother died from cancer; he found a way to deal with the pain of watching your loved one die,  of this deadly disease. He transformed that pain into making the Shawkat Khanum Cancer Hospitals for others.

Abdus Sattar Eidhi did the same. When his mother passed away and he realized there wasn’t a decent place where a poor person can go to, he built one of the worlds’ greatest civil services: the Edhi centers.

So it is up to you how you deal with your pain. Whether you use it to transform yourself and others or not. You have two alternatives, either you use that pain to hurt others with your fixed mindset, or you use it to feel the pain of others going through that pain? Yes, the growth mindset, as discussed in the book review of Mindset here.

So, whatever happens to you, forget it. Just go out and help others.  In this process your own sadness will miraculously vanish. In fact, you will realize your own so called sadness was ‘peanuts’!

Stay happily blessed my Reader!

Note: Of course, I shared it all on my stories on my Instagram. So, I’m sharing some of these here too! Photographs of event (bride, mother and food)  taken by Sidra who went all the way to attend the function. Photographs of Magnolia tree and indoor flowers by author. Photographs of Shawkat Khanum hospital and Edhi from internet, with thanks.



Helping Street Children Become Street Smart.

Once,  a beggar child came to Allama Iqbal, and his friend asked him, ‘can’t something be done about them?’ He said, ‘their lives will not change, because no one is doing anything for them.’

This is why the street children, have continued to have the same fate for centuries. No one did anything, and another hundred years have passed! Nothing has happened – just as Iqbal had predicted. Now, we don’t want another hundred years to pass without changing their fate. Today, all of us together can change the street children’s fate to this at least- just as Usman has done.

Suggestions for improving their lives:
  1. A policy of not giving cash to beggars on streets: Now, I tell the street child that I won’t give you any cash. You have to ask your parent to put you in school, and start earning yourself. Also, to give them snacks and clean drinking water. (Carry water and snacks in the car for them.)

2. Strict policy of no more than two or three children: Aggressive advertising against having more than three children has to be done. Provision of free contraceptives and indoctrination is extremely important. They must not have more children, when they have proved they cannot look after the ones they have. School must be compulsory for all.

3. Adult education must be compulsory: Making them realize, they will have to change their fate themselves. They will have to make an effort themselves to get out of this situation.

4. Giving alternatives to get out of clutches of exploiters: Promoting more free schools for underprivileged children, factories offering very light work in return for food, clothing and education in a healthy environment for children.

5. Seal all borders for refugees: Firstly, the Government needs to close all borders, to stop allowing more refugees inside our country. In fact we have got to remove all those who are illegally living in our country. First priority is for us to take care of our own population. Our own children are on the streets, and we are giving ‘shelter’ to people who aren’t our responsibility.

Any more ideas?.

I don’t want to have to go for the tailor’s shop next time to find this scene on the floor outside…
It was heart wrenching when I saw this scene. This child was worried about his precious shoes not getting stolen, also needed a pillow.

Please make an effort to join a school for underprivileged children near your home. Help bring a smile to their lips. See their happy faces, just like we love to see the happy faces of our own children. Laugh and joke with them, put a hand of love and understanding on their heads.

Over one seventy children in CSS School are being taken care of, there are hundreds in the wonderful Pehli Kiran Schools branches, in different areas also. There are many schools sprouting out in every nook and corner of our country now. Each one of them, need our help and support.

Let us be every street child’s strength.

Stay blessed, lovely ones. I can’t tell you how wonderful it feels just to see the great work  being done by this bunch of highly energetic young people, along with Usman.

There is great hope for this country. Allama Iqbal didn’t have this dream of such a country for nothing. It’s earth is definitely moist today, with the tears that come to our eyes to see the plight of these helpless children. Finally, the time has come to do something about it. Together, we can. 🙂
Let us stay blessed and bless others as well. 🙂

Words, Deeds and Trees…

This blog post is almost a continuation of my last blog post Ijaz Ahmed Khan – comparing a good word with a good tree.. Thinking it would be too long for you all, I decided to break them up into two. So, here it is, I know I’m late by a few minutes, but you know how life is these days! Yes, a bit crazy. But, here I am!

Now you know why, I chose this location of B 17 for our saplings, because firstly, the saplings would be well taken care of, and specially it would be in memory of a person, whom I got too late to thank, in real life. So, please do say a prayer for Ijaz Khan, and do not ever take so long in going out of your way to thank those who went out of their way to make life easier for you!

Continue reading “Words, Deeds and Trees…”

Rain water control, tree plantation, elections and my life.

July 2018 thoughts…

I guess, I better accept that real life isn’t so streamlined. Half the year is over, I’m already  behind schedule on lots of things. But then, I’ve also done a lot of things which were not in the ‘schedule’ but far more important; like engagement of my youngest daughter Waliya. Giving time to my second daughter Nadiya, who was leaving the country, moving for Canada. Also, to help get gifts for poor children studying in CSS school, and specially taking care of my elderly parents. So, I guess it is okay.

In July, we need to re-align ourselves to our primary goals.

Right now, in July here are the most important issues. I know you have a busy life too. But these matters mentioned below won’t take more than two days each! So, do look it up very seriously. Please read it while thinking ‘how can I do it?’ Just as I’m thinking the same while writing it:

  1. Rain water control at domestic and community level, during monsoon.
  2. Tree plantation.
  3. Elections.
  4. My life these days.

Continue reading “Rain water control, tree plantation, elections and my life.”

Ramzan, CSS school and Art classes 2018

Activities of last ten days of Ramzan. 


During  last ten days of Ramzan, it seems both type of people put on another gear! The worldly types move towards the bazaars and shops and more iftar parties. The shopping areas, and roads are packed till late night. The spiritual types completely detach themselves, and go into ‘aitekaaf’. It is a self-proclaimed detachment from worldly life and  focussing on Allah. Spending time only on  prayer and meditation for last ten days of Ramzan till Eid. During that time, one goes into searching for one’s inner self.


Continue reading “Ramzan, CSS school and Art classes 2018”

Joy of Charity Work


Somehow, you always receive more than you give!

This topic is so close to my heart, I don’t know where to start! I suppose charity begins with empathy. Yet there are so many beginnings to it.

Why give charity? It can be any of these reasons:

  1. To help others out of their dilemmas.
  2. To thank Allah for all that He has blessed you with.
  3. It is the best way to bring your own problems into perspective.
  4. It is the best anti-depressant, and diffuser of sadness. An instant mood booster.
  5. A financial booster. (I’ll explain in a while.)

Continue reading “Joy of Charity Work”

First Week of Ramzan

It is important to begin this month right!


So, with great hype and resolutions we started Ramzan. Weather has been amazing  in Islamabad, I’ve had days without fans even.  Yes, I know, it has touched forties in Karachi and other parts of the country. Anyhow, as usual, it is miraculously possible to keep the fast, and we actually manage pretty well.

33059432_1956783541021595_6346361393033248768_n (1)Then suddenly, you realize that you have to be careful. After the first thrill you realize it is not so easy either. Specially the sleep pattern is very disturbed.

Your charity resolutions need to be executed properly.  The most important thing is that you’ve got to start quickly with whatever you have planned. What happens is that ‘the early bird is already there!’

Continue reading “First Week of Ramzan”