Friday. 8.30 in the morning, I pull up to IMPossible’s office, an office-in-a-house item which brought to mind the word ‘grey’. I’m surrounded by people I don’t know, and pile into a bus with and off we go to Abbottabad. The two-or-so hour bus trip was bland. I read my book, White Teeth, and watched the girl sitting beside me text endlessly.
12.00 Noon. I’m sitting in the accommodates-two room that I’m sharing with three other girls. They come in and I stare at them. We stare at each other. Awkward-but-trying-not-to-be introductions are made, polite smiles passed around. The TV is small, the windows are big. The view is epic.
Discouraging. Hunger is the only thing I can focus on, and it gets worse. I look at the telly. Nat Geo – a crocodile is eating a hippo. Grrreeatt! Even big green lizards get food.
Lunch was served, everyone eyeballed each other, mixed together their dal & rice and pretended to think of important things.
But then, surprise. A man steps forward, CEO of IMPossible, Hamza Afzal. He starts talking, and all of a sudden there is a difference. Every face turned to his direction, all eyes on this captivating man. The introductory lecture was so engaging, it was alarming. Then the roller coaster started. One presentation, lecture, speech, group activity – never ending blur of movement, color, smiles.
Three days. It was three days in August, and it felt like thirty seconds. I didn’t want to come back. When I inevitably did, I felt nothing but confidence, inspiration and determination to do something.
The entire summit was jam-packed with activity. We were split into groups, with mentors assigned to us. We had lectures on everything from NGOs like Sungi, to Grameen, the need for social entrepreneurship, confidence building, thinking outside the box. There were guest speakers from REACH, NCUK, TIC, etc. Group activities included team-spirit building, learning to interact with others, working together to present new ideas and tackling Pakistan’s major problems.
We came up with small-scale, easy to implement solutions to Pakistan’s energy crisis, child labour and environmental disasters. These solutions will be presented to the Chief Minister of Punjab, Shahbaz Sharif.
Interacting with people whom I would have never met otherwise. Attock? Come on, like you could expect me to know anything about Attock? But I learned. From the people around me, kind faces – all. A completely different life, in a completely different city. It seemed so alien to me, so interesting.
Then the personalities – stringent and demanding. What is the point of this discussion? he would ask.
A ball of sunshine, the very appropriately-named Subha. Come on people, show some heart! Louder!
The emotional philanthropist, always ready to delve into the depths of every problem and claw his way out. Main tayar hoon! (I’m ready!)
All in all, it was a magnificent experience. The pulling together of these personalities, the secret affairs coyly taking place, the burning passion in the man who initiated it all. The catchy slogans every team came up with as they presented their solutions to our country’s biggest problems: Red Success, Go Green – Keep Pakistan Clean, Kanji – Aiming for Perfection. What started off mundane and unimpressive soon became an experience I don’t think I’ll ever forget.
Youth Summit 2010 – building a better tomorrow.