October 15 is a special day to me- it’s my birthday today, it’s the day I started training youth on climate change at national level and most importantly, it’s the Blog Action Day!
So, again like two years before on same day, I thought myself to become the part of Blog Action Day and start my birthday with my story of Power of We- A Journey from Self to Us!
The time I was a little school going child, living with my family in a remote town of northern parts of the KPK province, somewhere in my mind, thoughts continued to invoke myself, why changes in the natural beauty of my town are happening so rapidly. Our women continued to travel more and far to fetch water due to drying up springs and wells and our farmers always felt uncertainty over the sudden heavy rains and storms, enough to destroy their crops and their months’ long efforts in just a single day.
I could never connect the dots, until the time I, for the first time, went to Melbourne and learnt from Honorable Al Gore why we are becoming vulnerable to extreme weathers despite our negligible share in global carbon emission. I was then able to understand how our changing weathers in Pakistan, drying up springs and destruction of crops are linked with the phenomena of climate change.
I couldn't however came out of the fear what can I do, being alone, to solve such a big problem. Can I do something? Can I do anything in a situation where people in Pakistan are least concerned or known to the facts of climate change but buried in the challenges of poverty, insecurity and lack of access to quality health and education for their children?
And the best solution I could found was to change myself from Self to Us and there I find the Power of We! I remember the time, I talked to my 9 colleagues about climate change after I returned from Australia and got trained by Honorable Al Gore. My first presentation was a mix of fear and excitement. I thought people can react on me, think it as not our problem or considering it an attempt to intervene in what people in our conservative society usually think as rule of nature.
However, what I realized and observed from my first presentation to my 9 colleagues was their excitement of learning from the facts how human induced activities are altering the normal weather into extremes and how important it is to stop global warming.
And then I started talking to more colleagues and communities with more confidence about the human hands behind the adverse change in our climate, rather than the nature itself. My strong points in convincing conservative communities was always to link climate change phenomena with our Islamic teaching where people are instructed not to destroy crops and trees, nor to harm innocent people even in the state of war. If we cut a tree, we simply commit a sin by making our soil vulnerable to landslide and putting our people lives at risk. And same goes to people in richer parts of the world, who with their excessive emission of carbon put the people lives at risk by altering our climate.
Having more support from friends, I could start my community education campaign on climate change at national level. We took our start from the very first national level training for youth and civil society organizations on 15th October 2009. Since then, we together with our friends and volunteers, could spread the word in many parts of the country by helping them understand science of climate change, understand our vulnerabilities and opportunities and gather support in taking community level initiatives to fight climate change.
It was the time when three years back I, myself could take the first step with lots of fears in my mind and talking to only 9 people. And then the time came when WE could raise our voice and reached to almost 8.6 million people around the world to show them the reality of climate crisis and challenges to Pakistan and our planet due to climate change.
Today as we celebrate Blog Action Day, my personal feelings and belief go stronger on the Power of We, where often challenges being tackled alone become impossible, however working together can make such impossible challenges easy to overcome.
A Climate Campaigner from Pakistan