Friday, January 14, 2011

A blog to life- writing on the Earth and over the Clouds!

Perhaps it was the good time for me to start writing something special as I sit right now in the Jakarta airport and waiting to be on board for Islamabad.

I remember the time when I was leaving from my home in Pakistan. The time I was heading to Islamabad to catch my flight to Jakarta, my mother was quite tense. Not for the reason I was going far away, she knew I am going for a good cause, to learn something and do something good, but she was tense because of the suddenly changed security situation in Pakistan after the murder of Government of Punjab just a day before my departure to Indonesia. It has been really unfortunate that various factors and elements have taken away peace from my country and ultimately the people suffer. However, I am not going to talk about it right now.

It was almost 12 at midnight when I reached Islamabad airport. Looking at the flights schedule, an official from Emirates airline came to me and gently spoke- “excuse me, if you are here for the Emirates flight to Dubai at 03:25am, let me inform you that the flight has been cancelled due to fog, please come to our office so we facilitate your stay and arrange for the next flight”.

Oh “fog”- so now I had to be moved to the Islamabad hotel to stay at night and wait to catch the next flight other day at 5 in the evening. Thinking about this I had although, no other choice, only to wait for some more hours until I am able to catch my flight (if fog allowed this time). Thanks to the airline for the arrangements, however I missed one of my free days that I was supposed to be in the beautiful Jakarta city to have some rest and to move around.

May be I was not supposed to be free and at rest. Nature demands from all of us in such a critical time to take care of it. Fog in Pakistan this year has been of a record for the past ten years due to continuously dry and harsh winter. Not only this but weather has been significantly changed in Pakistan- increasing precipitation in the North and decreasing in the South semi-arid plain region. Numbers of villages have been disappeared from the coastal areas with people gradually migrating due to rise of sea level every year. Perhaps the world doesn’t know this misery. Number of villages and tourists places in the Northern parts where people never used fans, have now started using it because of the increased temperature. Massive flooding in Pakistan in July-August 2010 would never let people forget its miseries- 20 million directly affected.

I need to look at the clock if I am not getting late to be on board. The lady from Emirates informed me that the flight is a bit more late which I didn’t mind perhaps for the first time as I would continue writing a bit more..

I needed to come to Indonesia to meet 350 inspiring presenters from the 21 countries of the Asia-Pacific region who were gathering in the beautiful Balai Sidang Convention Centre from January 8-10, 2011. No doubt, I could make it with the generous support from The Alliance for Climate Protection. I would never forget how amazingly our hosts- The Climate Project (TCP) Indonesia, with the support of TCP Australia organized the 2nd Asia-Pacific summit on climate change. A big success! I think this was perhaps the most memorable event in my life where I was touched with every second of its hospitality, learning and support from TCP friends and fellow presenters, especially from Indonesia. It was such a great experience meeting number of friends whom I mostly talked via skype or exchanged emails but met for the first time in person. It looked like we had never been strange to each other. There was also another reason for happiness as three other presenters from Pakistan (Kamran, Azam and Bangash) have been able to join Pakistan’ presenters team to serve for our country in fight against climate change.

Ok wait, now I have to be on board, let’s start writing blog again while flying in the air… thousands of meters above sea level..

I loved to come to Jakarta for the first time in my life. My one week stay in Indonesia was one of the pleasant travels with loving people. I saw young boys and girls enjoying on the top of a local buses and on roads over the victory of their local football team! Whenever, I needed some help to find a route when moving around, everyone I asked in Jakarta helped me, despite the constraint that we were not able to understand each other’s language.

I still remember Mel from TCP Australia welcoming me at the front desk and immediately recognizing me saying- Hey Asif! Mel- you are just amazing! It was very inspiring for me that lots of fellow presenters and TCP friends knew me very well as a fellow presenter from Pakistan despite the fact we had never met before. I want to remember Angela from TCP Australia expressing her happiness when she met me 2nd time here in the Jakarta. I want to remember Amanda from TCP Indonesia welcoming me in her such a kind words to the fellow presenters and especially calling my name in her first speech to us- the summit table facilitators. And I remember smiling faces of Mim, Adam, Henary, Rebecca and many more. And I remember how Edrida from Indonesia just shouted when she looked at me while coming to the presentation hall! And Nana- very inspiring!! I simply can’t able to name each and every one fellow presenter here. Everyone was just amazing- friends from Korea, Philippine, Australia, India, Fiji… what a diverse connections!! This is a biggest strength and beauty of TCP.

Thanks to Aditya from TCP India whom I didn’t met before but he was eager to meet me, asking from other Pakistani fellow presenters- Is Asif there in the summit? As usual, I found the fellow presenters from India so friendly and loving. So pleasant to find time when I was able to talk to our Indian friends in Urdu language as well, quite enough for me to remember my own people back in Pakistan all the time :)


I was fortunate to start my new year 2011 by travelling to the Indonesia and most importantly to be personally trained by Honorable Al Gore- WOW, a man of passion and continuous struggle, a man who has significantly advocated globally on Climate Crisis and its impacts on humanity. The time has now become so critical for everyone to think and act on climate change and find its solution to keep the temperature below 2 degree C, which otherwise would led to more disasters in the world with change in the earth’ eco-system. Thank you so much Al Gore!

And that’s why Al Gore came to Jakarta to help us, the TCP fellow presenters from 21 nations to learn possible solution on climate crisis. My country being one of the climate affected region has always faced the problem of unawareness on climate issues. Having started my voluntary Climate Project Connectors campaign back in 2009, I look forward to help our people to understand the problem, advocate on the issue and seek for the possible solutions which Al Gore so beautifully shared with us. I really loved the passion of Al Gore during his presentation, when he emotionally and loudly expressed his feelings for action on climate crisis. Thanks to Al Gore for bringing together knowledge and wisdom to help us perfectly understand climate change and that’s what every country needs to act upon to prevent from catastrophes.

When sitting in the large beautiful Convention Centre in Jakarta, I was too excited to hear the Al Gore thoughts on Climate solutions. There was a time I had been into my mix feelings of happiness and sadness when Al Gore talked about Pakistan- my country. Although unfortunate that Pakistan has now become example for the world whenever there is something to talk about climate change internationally, but I was happy that a great person like Al Gore talk for Pakistan and our people.

My heart passionately thanked Al Gore when he expressed his feelings for the people of Pakistan and his desire for the better of life in Pakistan by the world needed to take immediate action on global carbon reduction. Not only for me, but I am sure that many other presenters would have this feeling for our people when Al Gore showed the map of Pakistan in his slideshow with flood water inundating more than half of the country’ area. People of the Queensland would perhaps realize more the situation after going through, unfortunately, such a difficult time in their lives due to record flooding since 1974.

I am happy to hear from Al Gore that after the massive flooding in Pakistan, our president talked to Al Gore for his support to understand how flooding relates to climate change and how we can better protect from such catastrophes in future. More than happy, that Al Gore has kindly accepted the request. Well, I feel it as a dire need that our government should take critical and timely action to help our people adapt to climate change.

I am so much thankful to Angela and Amanda who were very kind to provide me the opportunity to talk to the 350 presenters from 21 Asia-Pacific countries during the “Inspire sessions”. By this now I also remember Nadia Hadad holding MIC and inviting me on the stage!! It was of course, an honor for me to be among the four presenters who were selected to talk for ten minutes each to share their stories in fight against climate change with diverse group of presenters sitting in the hall. My heartiest thanks to TCP for allowing me to deliver my presentation on why I act on climate change and how we work in Pakistan with our volunteer connectors in Pakistan. Being the existing TCP presenter and District Manager, I really loved to play my role as group facilitator during the entire summit and enjoyed question & answer session where I joined other District Managers to respond to the questions of our fellow presenters from different countries.

I enjoyed learning the stories of self, us and now and I found how amazing Oliver McColl was to build our capacity to facilitate other fellows in rest of the sessions. What an experience to learn “Camp Obama narrative skills”.

So right now sitting in my plane and flying just over the Arabian Sea, I want to make another promise with myself…

And the promise is- after personally trained by Al Gore on climate change solutions, I would do my level best to spread the word in Pakistan, engage more audiences and make them aware on how we are able to solve the climate crisis in Pakistan. This is the time when our people really need support to be aware and able to adapt to the changing weather patterns. May my Allah help me in this struggle… Amin


Oki… Now as I am getting near to the Dubai, so let me wait for this flight to be safely landed and I get some rest, get access to internet and post my blog…

Ending at 11:15pm, January 13, 2011

Asif