HDF Fundraiser in Santa Clara Collects $156,000
By Ras H. Siddiqui
Imran Khan
Imran Khan and Javed Khan
Imran Khan and Javed Khan and Khalid Riaz
Greg Mortenson and Athar Siddiqee

The Human Development Foundation (HDF) held its Second Annual Silicon Valley Benefit Dinner at the Santa Clara Marriott Hotel on July 16, 2005. Over 700 Pakistanis and others of South Asian and local origin attended this gala event which could attribute its success not just to our community’s awareness of a great cause but the efforts of Javed Khan and his group of able volunteers, Shahid Khan plus the attractive choice of the keynote speaker, cricket legend Imran Khan and entertainment provided by ghazal maestro Habib Wali Muhammed.
The mission statement of the HDF is “to facilitate a movement for a positive social change and community empowerment through mass literacy, enhanced quality of education, universal primary health care and grassroots economic development.” Under the logo of “Apni Madad Aaap” or helping people help themselves, the HDF is currently serving 188,000 people via over 900 civic and development organizations, is currently operating over 200 schools, 7 health care clinics and has disbursed over 70 million rupees in micro-credit in Pakistan. The organization has also assisted in providing and improving water distribution in that country. It is headquartered in Schaumburg Illinois and can be reached at www.hdf.com online where one can discover a group that proudly says “Yes” to Pakistan.

AMV Table
Pakistan Association President’s Table
A group of volunteers who helped in organizing the fundraiser

The event started off with a recitation from the Holy Qur’an. Dinner was served soon after, at bit early and a taste too tame for the Pakistani palate but tastefully presented in the western continental tradition. And it was served pretty much on time, another deviation from our cultural norms.
Master of ceremonies Athar Siddiqee made the necessary introductions and got the program off to a good start. The event was safe in his capable hands throughout the evening with no real logistical problems. Athar started things off by inviting two young kids (twins?), Adeeb and Azeem Khan, who came up to the stage dressed to the tee in traditional Pakistani clothes. They recited “Mein Bhi Pakistan Hoon” (“I too am Pakistan”) to the delight of the (now) full house. Our hats off to them and their parents for helping set a nationalistic mood as Imran Khan Niazi sat in the audience and also gave them an appreciative look.
Host, leader and local face of the HDF Mr. Javed Khan, wore many worthy hats that evening. He came up to the stage and welcomed everyone and thanked them for coming. His appreciative words for Imran Khan who traveled a very long distance to be present here were echoed by many in the audience. Javed gave a brief “Report to Donors” on his last trip to Pakistan and shared with us the wonderful work that the HDF is doing there. “The projects of the HDF are for real,” he said. “The money that you donate is being spent very wisely,” he added. Javed said that it was Pakistan that enabled us to get an education and to come here to the United States and it was time we gave something back to the country. He also took the opportunity to thank a number of members of his local team along with all the volunteers who made this evening possible.

APPNA and HDF groups

Greg Mortenson, “the best dressed person” amongst the males in the room, spoke next. For those who may not know, the man decked out in Shalwar Kurta here tonight, he is a famous mountain climber from Montana, head of the Central Asia Institute who has also taken on the task of improving the lives of children in the remote areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan. In 1993 after spending 78 days ascending the world’s second highest mountain K2, the weak and drained Mortenson was nursed back to health in a poor Pakistani village where he recovered to discover both the hospitality and the extreme poverty of its people. Determined to help the people Greg has not stopped his efforts since then and is only one of three foreigners ever to have received the Pakistan Government’s highest honor for humanitarian efforts in the country. Greg started his speech with Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim and shared the touching and personal memory of his sister Christa who suffered from epilepsy. Christa died in 1992, a tragedy that inspired him to embark on many journeys. Greg was in Pakistan on 9/11 and shared his experiences with us. He said that the biggest problem there was illiteracy. “The most important thing is to educate girls. Until the girls are educated a society won’t change,” he said. “When I look into the eyes of the children of Pakistan, I see my own children,” he said in conclusion. We will revisit Greg Mortenson, his support for the HDF and his other efforts at the conclusion of this report.

Dr. Khalid Riaz, one of the pillars of the Human Development Foundation, spoke next. He took ten minutes to describe the essence of the HDF to us. He spoke about the strong women in his own family who made sacrifices so that he could get education, without which he would not be standing here today. “Today in Pakistan, there are millions of mothers who cannot send their children to school,” he said. “While we (HDF) are a charitable organization, we are not a charity,” he added. He said that the HDF promoted self-help and asked for our generosity in assisting with this effort.

Imran Khan, Adeeb Khan and Azeem Khan

A moving video presentation on the HDF called “Visionaries” hosted by Sam Waterston kicked off the fundraising effort. Yusuf Islam (former Cat Stevens) provided some of the background music to this visual and local fundraising veteran Dr. Rajabally helped generate some added enthusiasm. Magrib prayers and a fundraising recap preceded the keynote speaker Imran Khan.
Imran remains a Pakistani icon. This continues in spite of what veteran Pakistani writer and journalist Khalid Hasan has so accurately observed, describing Pakistan as a nation of iconoclasts. That his stature has not diminished in spite of his recent dabbling in politics remains surprising, but since his association remains with winning both in cricket and as a cancer hospital builder, Pakistanis worldwide admire the man. His keynote address at this event was not as focused as his speech at the OPEN Forum 2005 conference held in this area approximately two months ago. He appeared to be a bit tired (jet lag) and distant and more political. But his presence alone gets Pakistanis excited about their country of origin and in that he remained successful.
He started off on a humorous note. “I am very fortunate to be here. Let me say that Cat Stevens’s was not as lucky,” he said. He said that uncivilized societies do not care about the underprivileged. He was also critical of elitism. “When I started to build the cancer hospital I assumed that I would get the money from the rich,” he said. But he was disappointed. “I discovered that ones bank balance has an adverse effect on generosity. School children became my biggest source of support. I ended up going to ordinary people.”


Habib Wali Mohammed

He described the causes of the problems of Pakistan finding their source more with the elite than with the common man. He described the sad state of affairs in public education in the country and why help from groups like the HDF was needed badly. Imran went into the Human Development Index and Pakistan’s low performance reflected in it. And then he described the economics and the politics of corruption and how the problems of the masses were not being addressed. “The only way to empower people is to invest in them,” he said. He observed that Pakistan cannot become an “Asian Tiger” without educating its people and the only way to do that was to support worthy causes like this one. He added that no society in history has changed unless it took the political route and a little bit of welfare. “The first welfare state in history was the state of Medina,” he said, referring to the Prophet’s time. He asked for our participation in politics and investment in welfare of Pakistan’s people. Imran wants to build a world-class university next in western Pakistan. In his conclusion he congratulated all in attendance for collecting $156,000 as the final numbers had been announced.
In the follow-up question and answer session Imran Khan was asked who his role models were. He said, “Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Nelson Mandela and Mahatir Mohammed.”
Veteran Pakistani ghazal and geet singer Habib Wali Muhammed provided the entertainment and brought the evening to its delightful conclusion. He was assisted by the very popular Maneshwar Judge on the Tabla.
In conclusion it is not only Javed Khan and his team, especially the young volunteers (our next Pakistani-American generation), that need to be recognized for the success of this event. They certainly had a great deal to do with it. It is the entire Pakistani-American community of the area that needs to be congratulated here. People came from as far as150 miles away to show their support. Imran Khan certainly deserves kudos for his participation and added inspiration here. And inspiration is what brings us back to Greg Mortenson and what Athar Siddiqee had to say at the conclusion of his speech earlier. Athar said, “Here is what Greg Mortenson is doing for Pakistan. What are we doing?” This event and the $156,000 raised were certainly a great start.


 

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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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