A Memorable Journey to
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
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
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
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
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
4. Analyze, and then tweak the results, altering the aim where
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.