Monday, July 26, 2010

Connecting over clouds- Something to plan big

A breath of contentment was fascinating me when we finally reached the soothing and marvelous green resort of Thandiani. We were standing about 9000 feet above sea level where clouds were touching our soul and we were able to see fog passing through the thick forest trees, flying and making their ways all around.

There were moments, we weren’t able to do anything else but to see, feel and walk through the fog and happily requesting friends to capture the silence and satisfaction of nature in the eyes of cameras. And that’s why I am right now facing problem which picture to select and which to drop for my this blog :) I still think there is lot to say how green, beautiful and soothing Thandiani is- a blessing of nature, where one would certainly wish to make this world as green and natural as this part of heaven on earth. Of course we wished it a lot today.

I was happy that our connectors made a right decision in our last quarterly meeting to organize upcoming meeting in this cool hill spot. Memoona, our today’s facilitator and an active connector from Lahore had sent dozen of emails to friends to make sure everything go well in planning. Living in the hot burning Lahore, particularly in this summer of 2010, I could feel how excited she was and spent her day with us in this green resort, along with her family and her cute son Ayan (we call him the youngest Pakistani connector :)

We spent our day in Thandiani, while staying in the cool breeze and fog of heights to plan something big- working out the legal aspects of our national level network on climate change, which is an initiative of Climate Project Connectors. Today, we worked together, sharing with each other our campaign’ progress at individual and organizational level and doing group work to see how our network “Pakistan Environment Club” PEC will show up in big picture.

Jawad- always cooperative so once again today for arranging transport in a changed plan, making order for food and sweetly interrupting during the group work saying, “guys- food is getting cold and would not taste good if you delay more”. We thought, he doesn’t seem interested in the work but later on, he was so good enough upon his turn to shed lights on key legal aspects of our network, its functioning, role and responsibility. And why not, after all Jawad is a lawyer, beside the executive director of Saibaan and a connector from Mansehra.

Naheed thank you for joining us today! Our strong female connector from Mansehra and a sound women activist, we never feel like we will miss role of women in our campaign when Naheed is with us to advocate on women rights. That’s why we were able to give full respect to women empowerment in our future plans.

Rashda, a supportive connector from Abbottabad city, always saying, “Asif, Is Naheed coming along? If not, then would straightaway say, SORRY then I can’t come”. The reason behind this sorry would always be her wish to enjoy every trip to full extent, having the company of her best colleague. I feel proud of her as she, now a days, is a regular mentor of three women, we recently selected from Balakot as “echopreneurs” in our campaign’ initiative “WE ECHOPRENEURS”.

And finally Amjad, our connector from Concern Islamabad, always looking at things very deeply, competent, so always considered as key human resource in organizations he worked with (although Naheed always complain about him why he changes organization so quickly :) ) He was a good contribution for today’s work of connectors and let me also say thanks to Amjad for taking some good pictures of me as well :)

I feel content that our campaign is keeping our connectors united for a common voice, a volunteer movement of its kind in Pakistan where they are advocating on the catastrophe of climate change while promoting the sense of volunteerism in action.

Let’s hope our connectors’ aims are as high and cool for our people as of the clouds of nature today!



Thursday, July 22, 2010

Your few precious minutes are important for us

Dear Climate lovers,

Your few precious minutes are important for us. We need you to evaluate our campaign against Climate Change in Pakistan and give us feedback on how can we improve our campaign against Climate Change.

Please go to the link and help us with your inputs and feedback: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/3MHYDT6
We are a group of volunteers (Connectors) in Pakistan and running our campaign since last year under the Hon. Al Gore' Climate Change Leadership Programme.

Pakistan, being an agricultural country, contribute only less than a percent in global carbon emission but still is the 12th most vulnerable country due to Climate Change. It's melting glaciers in north, more risks of flooding and droughts, increased health concerns, food insecurity and scarcity of fresh water availability will be main challenges in coming years. Pakistan' average temperature increase is more than the global average, while studies predict shift in monsoon season and reduced crops productivity. Women and children will be particularly impacted due to climate change because of their less coping strength to adapt to climate shift.

We take it as our prime responsibility to make our unaware people aware of climate change and help them seek sustainable solutions against climate crisis and advocate on the issue with government and decision makers. We aim to empower women and help them to increase their resilience against the catastrophe.

Of course we need to improve our approach with innovation, to reach more people and take more actions. Your few minutes that you may spare to evaluate our campaign can create a big impact.

Go here: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/3MHYDT6

Many thanks,

Asif
Presenter- The Climate Project

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Launching "We Ecopreneurs"- Linking environment with income generation for poor women

Yes! we can do it and that's why we are on the way to do it.

Today, I feel happy that we are launching another bold initiative "WE ECOPRENEURS" for women in our campaign Climate Project Connectors in Pakistan. "WE ECOPRENEURS" will pilot a model that will work towards eliminating barriers which obstruct women to access resources and opportunities for sustaining their livelihoods.

Three most vulnerable and economically less empowered women will get comprehensive training, mentoring, inputs and financial assistance to become ecopreneurs. We are piloting this innovative programme in Balakot sub division where these women will initially be able to establish organic kitchen gardening and able to market their produce to earn livelihoods.

Pakistan, being one of the agricultural countries, will be more exposed to food crisis in coming years due to changing weather pattern and climate impacts. Women, particularly those with less economic opportunities together with social barriers, will be even more vulnerable to sustain their livelihoods with dignity. "WE ECOPRENEURS" will contribute in increasing resilience of poor women to adapt to climate change and improve their livelihoods with dignity.

Our objective of this pilot programme is to create women ecopreneurs at local level through integrating environmental conservation with income generation opportunities for poor women.

To give our idea wings, we have selected three potential women from Balakot with the involvement of a local women CBO. Families of these beneficiary women are willing to allow them to participate in a training cum competition based opportunity in their own village.

One of our female connector, expert in organic kitchen gardening, will train these women voluntarily in 1) climate change and food security 2) organic kitchen gardening and compost making and 3) marketing and linkage development. These women ecopreneurs, after the training, will receive required financial assistance to prepare a small piece of land (about 10 marla) and purchase of seeds to start organic kitchen gardening in their fields.

To boost interest among beneficiary women, they will enter into a market competition, where the one being on the top in earned profit will get 1st cash prize. Similarly, the rest of two will also receive 2nd and 3rd cash prize as per the profit they earn from their produce. These women ecopreneurs will use the cash prizes to improve their work and profit at local level. The ecopreneurs will also get regular mentorship from our female Connector to improve production and sale as well as to establish linkages with an organization to support their green business in future.

TCP presenter in Pakistan together with one of the female connectors will initially support these three women to pilot the programme in terms of providing trainings, financial assistance and linkage development. Once successful, the programme will look for more opportunities to scale up and replicate this model in other areas.

Today "We Ecopreneurs", tomorrow we empower.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

How to handle our happiest days of life

I have a friend, perhaps the best among thousands of those in the world that people claim to be proud of in their lives, a friend that makes my every day of life with a new learning, a friend helping me out to become a good person than my every past day. I think, with more straightforwardness of my friend in telling me the reality of life, my own weaknesses and where I need to be strong, I think I have the blessing of God to have such person in my life. A more than a friend to me that I would take not a single minute to change my decision to start reading a book that I bought recently, but to read first “A Thousand Splendid Suns”. It is not like that I only changed my choice of reading book because my friend said this. Rather, I believe I am going to learn more from the recommendation of my friend as always, in addition to my personal attachment. This is what when we can, often, take our hard decision easily in life when a friend is also a good mentor :)

As I started reading the book, “A Thousand Splendid Suns”, the first question I asked from myself "how come I didn’t read it a long before". It is an awesome book…. Oh wait Asif, I am not here to talk about how amazing the book is, I wanted to tell why I am going to change my facebook status message “Some time we don’t learn from our most happiest days of life”. I wanted to write here what new thing my friend shared with me for my learning. I hope I will justify in my blog, the words that my friend said to me.

It was kind of emotional reaction of something that forced me to write that status message on FB wall and since then I kept of thinking about it. I was thinking there is still something wrong with this status message. Today, as I talked to my friend about how amazing it is to have best days in life, but on the other hand how hard it is to manage it all when we separate, I think I am near to understand how to edit my FB status message.

We rarely think of such hard times, while totally mad of and disappeared into the pleasure of such best moments. Separation from such environment is often hard to bear. We often hear that everything needs a limit or balance in life. The same rule applies if we are somewhere out with friends and people either for fun, training or some celebrations, we need to limit the extent of excitement that we create just to make the moments all the time hit. In case of long days training somewhere in most beautiful places with amazing friends, we bring each and every thing all together but rarely think of mentorship, psychological care and way forward as part of our training programmes that could make us able to bear such hard feelings when we separate.

It is fact when we separate and come out of those especial moments of our life, our minds hardly accept it for many days and we are in kind of trauma that what happened to us. Sometime in such situation, we react in a strange way to our self, our friends or even to our families and loved one. No doubt, in case of training event, it is the beauty of our hosts to create such an amazing environment that we don’t feel away from our families and friends. However, on the other way, may be such hosts forget to plan how they are going to ensure that participants feel a sustainable way of networking, not only the business, but also the emotions that keep our minds and feeling strong enough when at the time of separation.

Often I wish, some day I will be a good trainer. That’s why I keep on learning new tools and techniques that can make my trainings better than before. Thank you so much my friend for the talk today and giving me a chance to peruse this new tool of handling emotions. May be you are not aware how precious learning you gave me today by sharing the idea of such psychological support. For me it will not only apply in trainings but also in our personal lives. I hope, I could learn this soon.

Dedicated to my friend…

Now I am going to change my FB status to “How to handle our happiest days of life”

Saturday, July 3, 2010

My year long journey with The Climate Project (TCP) - the year worth living

Thank you TCP for making my one year as the most valuable time of my life. When I say I am a presenter of The Climate Project, it makes me feel so proud and that's what I can call a real wealth of my life.

I am recalling July of last year when I was waiting for my visa for Australia with all of my excitements, worries and tensions. I remember how beautiful the time was when at 07:00am in a cold morning of Melbourne, my eyes saw the amazing Arts center. This was the place where I was going to meet the most amazing climate campaigners and was about to start a new life of dedication, spirit and commitment. Entering the venue, I had totally forgotten my all tiredness that I had due to rush in collecting my passport, then to airport with not enough time, missing my flight and again catching another one next day, more time in Dubai airport and then finally having my long journey towards Melbourne. I still remember the taxi driver from Italy, welcoming me at 03:00am at Melbourne airport, with his first comment while driving toward Victoria hotel- “So you are from Pakistan, having the best cricket team of the world :)

Reaching my destiny make me feel totally refreshing and excited. I still recall the smiling faces of TCP officials welcoming every one and lovely trainees from nineteen countries of Asia-Pacific region, which I met for the first time but never felt like strangers. The most amazing moment, I still recall the appearance of Honorable Al Gore in the hall. The excitement was on every face with lots of clapping and standing to give this great person all the respect and love.

Today, as I recall those moments of love, learning and excitements, I am thankful to God that I could avail this great opportunity in Melbourne and now myself as a presenter of The Climate Project Australia, life gave me most of the rewards that someone can be proud of, as I am now. The one year journey as climate campaigner started with the launch of my campaign “Climate Project Connectors” in Pakistan to create mass awareness on climate change and to advocate for change.

What a start it was with my first ever presentations on regional slide show to my own colleagues in World Vision field offices to motivate them to think and act as environment friendly persons and professionals. I initiated Connectors training programme in Pakistan and trained connectors (volunteers) to further educate audiences on catastrophe of climate change. The experience was so wonderful, exciting and helpfull and why not because majority of our people, especially women are unaware of climate change.

It gave me continuous encouragement throughout the first year of campaign that our Connectors’ community remained active in their capacities to motivate audiences to take action against climate crisis. Today, our connectors stand with me in our efforts to advocate on this most burning issue of the 21st century. Our connectors, both females and males, belong to different international organizations like UNDP, Action Aid, World Vision, Oxfam GB, ACTED, Care, national organizations like Saibaan, SRSP, Alternate Solutions, PHKN, Hashaar, SPEED (tribal areas) and students from International Islamic University Islamabad.

Numbers of connectors joined hands with me in establishing country level network on Climate Change “Pakistan Environment Club”. We were able to initiate number of activities in the first year of campaigning such as educating families, communities and organizations on climate change through different talks, trainings, presentations and online information sharing, supporting organization to integrate climate change in their strategies, developing concept papers and proposals on climate change, initiating environmental assessments, projects on water and land resource management, installation of micro- hydal power plants, plantation and working together with the ministry of environment with the help of our brilliant young connectors/students of the Environmental Club.

Looking at the first year’ initiatives that we were able to undertake with the help of our amazing climate volunteers and support from TCP, I think I have spent the most valuable time of my life. This feeling give me a motivation to continue my efforts to influence thoughts, expand our campaign’ outreach and gather support to take more actions for our people.