Positive Pakistani: Wise beyond his years

Published: June 10, 2012
Email
Always mindful of the plight of others, 17-year-old Ghalib Khalil decided to wade right through to the ones who needed to be rescued during the 2010 floods and has won international recognition for it.

Always mindful of the plight of others, 17-year-old Ghalib Khalil decided to wade right through to the ones who needed to be rescued during the 2010 floods and has won international recognition for it.

Always mindful of the plight of others, 17-year-old Ghalib Khalil decided to wade right through to the ones who needed to be rescued during the 2010 floods and has won international recognition for it. Always mindful of the plight of others, 17-year-old Ghalib Khalil decided to wade right through to the ones who needed to be rescued during the 2010 floods and has won international recognition for it.

Always mindful of the plight of others, 17-year-old Ghalib Khalil decided to wade right through to the ones who needed to be rescued during the 2010 floods and has won international recognition for it.

Seventeen-year-old Ghalib Khalil’s parents always knew that their son was a bit of a philanthropist. “Every time we saw a beggar on the street, he would force us to give something,” says his mother, recalling Ghalib’s childhood. “He was always curious about why people were weak, sick and poor.”

It didn’t then come as a surprise to them that when the 2010 floods devastating Pakistan, Ghalib was filled with the desire to help those thousands of people whose lives and livelihoods had been swept away by the surging waters.

Not one to simply switch the channel and move on, Ghalib instead decided to roll up his sleeves and pitch in with the relief efforts. Thus, with the help of school friends and one of his teachers, the Rescue Pakistan Youth Foundation was born and the real work of collecting funds for the flood victims began.

But good intentions are rarely enough in this world, and despite his enthusiasm, Ghalib wasn’t too optimistic about receiving enough donations to make a difference. “I had thought that only Rs25,000 would be collected in the first flood drive, but two days later when I checked my bank account, it showed a balance of Rs200,000,” said Ghalib in an interview with the BBC. “I was amazed at our people’s generosity.” It was an impressive beginning, but the best was yet to come: by the end of the campaign, which included a fundraising festival in Lahore that he had organised himself, he had collected 10 million rupees under the aegis of his newly formed NGO.

For those who know him, the idea that this relatively unknown teenager could raise so much money wasn’t at all unbelievable. With a reputation of being trustworthy and responsible, it wasn’t difficult for him to gain the trust of donors.

“In school, he was nicknamed ‘little angel’ because he was always lecturing us on helping people and being kind,” says Ghalib’s close friend Haider Jamil.

The next step was to ensure that the money reached those it was meant for. “We made several attempts to contact the government and coordinate with their relief efforts, but received no response, Ghalib said in the BBC interview. Without any official support, Ghalib decided that the only way to complete this Herculean task was to simply do it himself. He then screened every single person who applied to volunteer for the foundation, selecting 40 young girls and boys. While he himself monitored every rupee that was donated, the volunteers he’d selected went to flood-hit areas to disburse the amount. “We owe a debt of gratitude to everyone who helped us,” said Ghalib.

While he may not be a household name in Pakistan, he has certainly won accolades in the wider world. The Huffington Post, in partnership with youth service America included him in their list of 25 most powerful and influential young people in the world list for his relief work during the floods. The list was aimed at promoting teenagers and young adults who were having a positive effect on their community — and if anyone fit that bill, it was Ghalib!

But even as the relief activities for the 2010 floods wound down, another disaster soon attracted his attention. In April 2011 the Fukushima earthquake and resulting tsunami devastated Japan and Ghalib once again could not sit by idly and watch.

“The lives of millions of happy people were uprooted and homes were levelled to the ground,” he recalled. “So we geared up to help the Japanese people and managed to raise a million rupees. Gina, a Japanese friend, assisted us in distributing funds in her country.”

For Ghalib, humanity truly transcends borders — even hostile ones — and his best friend is an Indian girl named Arveen.

“I was surfing through my Facebook fan page when I saw a message in my inbox which was sent by a girl named Arveen Singh. In the message, she asked me to promote her page on my fan page. When I went to view her profile, I found out that she was from India. This immediately sparked my curiosity, and I sent her a friend request, which she accepted,” Ghalib writes in a blog for The Express Tribune.

From that simple step, they have developed a friendship deeper than their countries’ conflicts and gone on to become youth Peace Champions from India and Pakistan through Facebook’s Friends Without Borders project.

“The description on the project’s page intrigued me and I immediately joined. They soon launched a campaign in which they were selecting peace champions from eight countries,” Ghalib writes. The countries included Pakistan and India and Ghalib realised that he and Arveen fit the bill perfectly.

Excited, they brought out their cameras — Ghalib in Sialkot and Arveen in New Delhi — and made a short film showing that their friendship has survived cultural differences, customs and problematic ties between their countries. The video was selected by Unicef to be screened at the World Youth Conference in Mexico in August 2011.

“Peace is possible, but not by the help of government or nations. It is actually possible when we make our own selves peaceful. Only then can we maintain peaceful relationships in the world,” says Ghalib in the video.

Through his work, Ghalib has put that philosophy into action. He may not have a future plan of action sorted out already, but he knows what his calling is. “My message to young Pakistanis, and people from around the world, is that they should let go of their differences to rescue the downtrodden and secure the oppressed.”

Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, June 10th, 2012.

Facebook Conversations

Reader Comments (28)

  • Sad soul
    Jun 10, 2012 - 11:41AM

    Beautiful!

    Recommend

  • Uzair Javaid
    Jun 10, 2012 - 1:42PM

    Hats off to you brother and keep up the good work. May the rest follow you =)

    Recommend

  • Supressed, Opressed, Depressed
    Jun 10, 2012 - 2:14PM

    Well done young man!

    Recommend

  • vigilant
    Jun 10, 2012 - 2:23PM

    Hats off………buddy keep goingRecommend

  • Faesal
    Jun 10, 2012 - 3:08PM

    Excellent Job lad. Keep it up

    Recommend

  • Aamna
    Jun 10, 2012 - 3:44PM

    This guy lives up to his name.. ‘GHALIB’ the one who overcomes :)

    Recommend

  • Mehnaz
    Jun 10, 2012 - 3:54PM

    “Peace is possible, but not by the help of government or nations. It is actually possible when we make our own selves peaceful.” Definitely wise beyond years :)

    Recommend

  • Taji
    Jun 10, 2012 - 3:54PM

    Ghalib, we are all proud of you. Few more like you, and Pakistan could have a bright future. In the midst of grim news from Pakistan, Ghalib has demonstrated that Pakistan has a lot to offer and it’s not a failed state.

    Recommend

  • Sara
    Jun 10, 2012 - 5:36PM

    Well done Ghalib!

    Recommend

  • Mubashir
    Jun 10, 2012 - 6:47PM

    You make your Parents and your fellow Country men Proud.. Thank you.

    Recommend

  • Aisha
    Jun 10, 2012 - 7:11PM

    Masha’Allah, bravo…Ghalib…. Keep it up…

    Recommend

  • Aisha
    Jun 10, 2012 - 7:12PM

    Bravo Ghalib…. Keep it up….

    Recommend

  • Hafeez
    Jun 10, 2012 - 7:26PM

    If Pakistan needs anything, its youth like you. Godspeed!

    Recommend

  • Sad soul
    Jun 10, 2012 - 7:54PM

    Sadly, no comment from any Indian yet! Shows that the only reason many Indians come on ET is to bash Pakistan and Pakistanis, because whenever there is an article posted showing a bad side of Pakistan, Indians are always among the first ones to comment, but when a positive side is shown, Indians are nowhere to be seen!
    I’m not trying to bash Indians here, but it really does hurt that Pakistanis are always accused by Indians of hating them, but they themselves don’t show any sign of fair positivity towards their Pakistani counterparts!
    This guy is doing an excellent job with Arveen in bringing the both nations together but its hard because both of these nations can’t stand each other being shown in positive light while they love it when the other is shown in a negative light!
    This goes for Indians AND Pakistanis equally!

    Recommend

  • Irshad Khan
    Jun 10, 2012 - 8:20PM

    Young people like you are our source of hope in future of Pakistan–my lovely child, Ghalib. May Allah, the Almighty, bless you with more energy and courage to help the needy in Pakistan, who are in majority now. I pray to God to make you torch bearer of youngster movement in Pakistan.

    Recommend

  • Jabran
    Jun 10, 2012 - 8:53PM

    Keep it up. Keep it going. Ghalib!

    Recommend

  • Drone_Strike
    Jun 10, 2012 - 11:09PM

    @Sad soul:
    you don’t need to be too sensitive about this. This is something that won’t generate too much interest across the border. News related to terrorism et cetera would naturally generate greater interest (and is more relevant to India’s interests) and then there are people on both sides who hate each other but this piece of news you naturally won’t expect too many comments anyway. Take nothing away from the young man, well done and keep it up.

    Recommend

  • Pakistani
    Jun 11, 2012 - 12:02AM

    Love u for doing that Ghalib. People like u should b leaders of our nation.

    Recommend

  • indian
    Jun 11, 2012 - 12:06AM

    @Sad soul:
    Great work Ghalib and Arveen! but all those who are complaining about Indians not commenting about it, it is because of title of the article. Anyways, as I can say for myself, I don’t hate Pakistani people but I do hate the people who support extremism and killing of innocent people on our side. I also hate people who use religion as tool to kill innocent people on either side.

    Recommend

  • ollie
    Jun 11, 2012 - 12:47AM

    ok, you were waiting a comment from an Indian. So here it is, this boy may be an angel to you but I see a Buddha (wise, entlightened being) in him. His actions and thinking represent goodnees in all of us.

    Recommend

  • Jun 11, 2012 - 3:45AM

    Awkward moment when you don’t even know when did the ET asked you the question included in this article. As a response from Ghalib’s close friend LOL.

    Anyways, Congrats Ghalib.

    Recommend

  • Ali
    Jun 11, 2012 - 4:01AM

    Thank you Ghalib!
    God bless you.

    Recommend

  • curious
    Jun 11, 2012 - 4:40AM

    Thank you Tribune for bring to light these promising stories from Pakistan

    Recommend

  • Jun 11, 2012 - 7:20AM

    Agreed we as a people must do things ourselves – great story of a great human :)

    Recommend

  • Jun 11, 2012 - 11:15PM

    I am a North American that reached out through a facebook human rights group to try to promote peace and intercultural understanding between our nations last year. Meeting many Pakistanis there, I was looked at with hope by some, and distrust and dislike by others. Ghalib gave me the gift of not judging me harshly just because I am from the US. He treated me like a valuable person and became my friend. We’ve since built a lasting bridge between our nations. Ghalib has been a very good friend, and it’s because of people like him that I know our nations can have a constructive future together. His contributions to the peace process are beyond significant, and I am so proud to know him!

    Recommend

  • I read it too...
    Jun 12, 2012 - 2:49PM

    Masha’allah; great. May we all have such courage, confidence, and most of all, sympathy for others’ plea!

    Recommend

  • Aswanth
    Jun 23, 2012 - 3:51PM

    gud job ghalib (y)

    Recommend

  • Farooq
    Jul 23, 2012 - 11:43AM

    @Sad soul:

    Very Valid observation.

    Recommend

More in Magazine