“I never had so much fun in my life…it was the best day ever!”’ Nasir Ali, 12, said with excitement as Eid and independence were being celebrated together at the children’s ward at Jinnah Hospital on Thursday.
Ali, who hails from Khanewal, has been admitted to the hospital for treatment of thalassemia since July 29. “My health had been deteriorating so we came to Lahore for treatment,” Ali said.
With ‘Pakistan’ written in green on his forearms and colouring a book, Ali said he was overjoyed with the activities that were conducted the entire day at the ward. “The celebrations at hospital made my day. I will return home for Eid all cheered up,” he said.
Twenty volunteers of Green Minds, a youth-led organisation, spent the day at the children’s ward at Jinnah Hospital where they conducted games and distributed Eidi and gifts to young patients. The initiative called ‘Kal ka Pakistan’ was organised in collaboration with the Jinnah Hospital Social Welfare Committee, which organises Eid celebrations every year.
“Our aim was to bring independence celebrations to children admitted to hospitals,” said Zubair Ahmed Khokhar, one of the founding members of Green Minds. Khokhar, a chemical engineering student at Punjab University, said they had planned to host only Independence Day celebrations on August 14 but later learnt that the hospital social welfare committee had planned to organise a similar event for Eid, “so we thought of combining the two.”
Starting their preparations early in the morning, Khokhar and other volunteers decorated the children’s ward with balloons, flags and paper cut outs and later conducted various activities for the children. Founding members of Green Minds including Ahmed Farooq and Sidrah Ejaz gathered 16 volunteers for the event while raising close to Rs15,000.
“Face painting was very popular. Children would keep coming back to us requesting for more,” Farooq said. Four-year-old Afzal, who suffers from renal failure, was amongst them. With his face covered in green and white paint, Afzal sat through the activities with a smile. “Whenever we would take a picture of him, he would put on a big smile,” Farooq said.
Almost 50 children engaged in the activities along with staff nurses and on-duty doctors, who signed a banner with Independence Day messages, which was later put up on a wall in the ward.
“The children were really happy today with the activities and decoration in the ward,” Raseela, a staff nurse performing duty at the children’s ward ICU, told The Tribune. She said such events should be held more frequently. “A single organisation cannot be tasked with conducting such events every time. More people need to step forward and be a part,” she said.
Syed Mohammad Ali, a volunteer and a student at Government College University, said, “Today we saw what these celebrations mean for children like Afzal.”
Green Minds members said they hoped to conduct sessions training students to administer first aid at government schools across the city in the coming days.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 17th, 2012.