A Memorable Journey to Pakistan
By Dr. William Jackson

 

The devastated earthquake area where Saba Trust is actively engaged in relief efforts

I consider myself fortunate that I was able to take advantage of my preplanned visit to Saba Trust Pakistan. I saw first hand the destruction the killer earthquake had caused. I will not elaborate on Bala Koat or Ghari Habibullah which most everyone have heard about.
I want to share my unique experience of Guli Bag, Khulara, Bagag Bufa and Batal. Tears come to my eyes as I witness complete villages flat, school buildings completely destroyed, people desperate for much needed help.
The email that I sent to Br. Saghir really tells the whole story.
Over the past 17 years of Deseret Internationals existence we have learned that the most important ingredient of a successful program, anywhere in the world, is the person you are working with. Give me a dependable, energetic, man of vision and integrity as a partner and together we can make good things happen. Saghir Aslam fits those criteria to a tee!
The word “Deseret” means “Honey Bee” and suggests that every bee in the hive contributes what he does best in order to produce something sweet. Deseret International follows that same philosophy — searching for our “bees” and partners all around the world with the intent of creating new programs - ongoing and locally chartered - to create life-changing results.
We first began sketching out a collaborative effort for working in Pakistan on an eye care program (cataracts mainly) about 8 months ago. Right away I sensed good vibes coming from Saghir. I planned my fall travel schedule to allow for a visit to the Rawalpindi area in October, 2005. I assumed Saghir would be in the states during the days I had allotted — but the earthquake of October changed all that. Saghir felt the need to personally oversee projects to assist the suffering of the Northeast Frontier — and I had the chance to watch the man in action…and try and keep up with him. We visited the more remote areas of earthquake damage (so far untouched by government help) where he made carefully considered decisions, on the spot, to assist with what he refer to as the “aftermath” – housing, schools, jobs and the winter.
Plans where made for heavy duty equipment to clear home site; tent to meet the immediate needs; and arrangements debated on where to establish a temporary refugee site for the young (schooling included), and those with special needs on land he owned near the headquarters of the Saba Trust.
In these efforts he was indefatigable. It seems in October, Pakistan was visited by both a deadly earthquake and a divine whirlwind!
During my abbreviated visit I had the chance to visit several of the current, as well as the proposed, educational programs run by one of the Trusts he administers—preschools, primary and secondary classes and post-graduate classrooms filled with enthusiastic young ladies. I shared his excitement concerning the soon to start vocational school that will be centered in Rawalpindi. Did I say he was a man of vision? Also a man of accomplishments...with no grass growing under his feet.
One of the secrets of a successful assistance program — of any type — is to collaborate with other groups to help meet your goals. Deseret and the Saba Trust share the same goal of wanting to provide the miracle of returned sight to those worthy poor who struggle with cataract blindness. Together, working with some of the best Pakistani surgeons and facilities, we have settled on several approaches to assist in accomplishing this noble work throughout Pakistan. We will — as facilitators — be doing what we can do best, and the “sweetness” will follow.
Saghir and I share another philosophy — that too much time can sometimes be wasted with overdoses of surveys, ongoing meetings, and extensive feasibility discussions. After becoming acquainted with the need and the appropriate players we prefer the “ready, fire, aim!” approach.
1. Identify a specific unmet need.
2. Formulate a reasonable plan of action and move ahead while the “iron is hot.”
3. Start with small steps and minimal commitment as on “tests the water.”
4. Analyze, and then tweak the results, altering the aim where necessary.
5. Finally, build on our success.
With a partner like Saghir Aslam those success will be many and a new and needed eye program will emerge to bless the lives of thousands of people.
In what I have mentioned I have alluded to several “Trusts” that Mr. Aslam is involved with; let me close by mentioning the most important “Trust”…that people believe in him. Confidence of that kind is born after years of selfless service; it is something that has to be earned…and he has done that.



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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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