How did you get into the social sector?
I had always planned to stay in the corporate sector. However, three years after starting my career, an opportunity presented itself which meant I could switch to the social sector. I joined a UK-based INGO (international non-governmental organisation), Save an Orphan, as the Pakistan lead.
I was travelling all over Pakistan. We treated more than 700 children suffering from thalassemia free of charge. We did this by launching the first ever mobile blood transfusion unit in the KPK region. These communities are spread across mountains, meaning sufferers would have to travel around six hours daily down to the cities to get treatment. We made it possible to reach the mountains to stop children being forced to travel for the blood they needed. KPK has the highest rate of children with thalassemia in the whole of Asia and some children require blood transfusions every week. In some families, multiple children suffer.
The children and I don’t speak the same language, they speak a regional language that I don’t understand. Despite this, whenever I would see them they would kiss and hug me. Helping them made all the hard work worthwhile.
You were a British Council Alumni Awards finalist in the Social Impact category. How did it feel?
It was amazing. I never even thought about applying to the British Council Alumni Awards.
When I received the news that I was a finalist, I was so excited. I had to keep checking that it was really my name! I was the first ever University of London alumni member to be nominated in the Social Impact category, which was a great honour to me.
I was called to Karachi to attend the ceremony with fellow alumni members from around the world.
What my parents did really had an impact on how I live my life. Helping people is in my genes.
Did you always know you wanted a career where you would have a big impact in society?
My passion for social impact began at home. My mother and father used to take poor children from the village into the city to study. They helped many children to receive an education. For my family, working to help society comes naturally. What my parents did really had an impact on how I live my life. Helping people is in my genes.
What is your career highlight?
I would have to say gaining a UK degree, it’s as simple as that. In Pakistan, getting a foreign degree means a lot of hard work. It completely kick-started my career.
When you were nominated for the Social Impact Award, you said that you wanted to specialise in human rights law in the future. Is that still your plan?
Yes, that is still my long-term plan. I am passionate about changing lives and I think that would be a step in the right direction.
Who is your biggest inspiration?
Mohammed Ali Jinnah. He was a lawyer, politician and the founder of Pakistan.
What are your future ambitions?
I want to make an impact in the health sector. I plan to open an orphanage and a hospital for children with thalassemia whose families cannot afford treatment. I have seen the absolute pain and agony that sufferers and their families go through – it needs to change. For them, getting blood is as important as getting air.
The children I meet are extremely selfless. I took some children with thalassemia to Pakistan Television Centre to do a live appeal for blood donations. When donors would call up to give blood to a specific child, blood that could save their lives, they would ask if the donations could be given to their friends. Children should not have to experience this, and I want to make a change.