Five minutes to ignite: Born during floods but the journey continues today

AKU surgeon recalls the journey of her voluntary medical camp at AKU Ignite 3

Our Correspondent July 06, 2015

KARACHI: In 2010 when floods ravaged Pakistan, Nuzhat Faruqui, a surgeon at the Aga Khan University Hospital, combined her passion for exploring the country with her desire to help people.

She satisfied her desire to travel by setting up medical camps to help the injured. "After that, there was no turning back. It's been five years now that I have been doing regular medical camps," she said. "It started with three doctors going along with the Pakistan Navy and now I have more than 30 doctors readily available for our medical excursions," she said.

She spoke of her medical camp experiences where she would see mountains and rivers on one side and the Princess of Hope statue on the other, in Balochistan. Faruqui spoke of serving humanity and appreciating nature at the same time, a concept also known as cause-based travelling.

Faruqui was just one of the speakers at the Ignite 3 Karachi, held at the Aga Khan University Hospital and organised by Critical Creative Innovative Thinking (CCIT). The speakers, also known as Igniters, spoke on various topics ranging from medical education to reclaiming the internet in Pakistan. With just five minutes and 20 slides, the 10 speakers at the event rushed to make their voices heard.

Read: Floods 2010: Success stories in the worst of times

"The key to practice empathy is to just listen. Without advice or pity. Just listen," said Huma Baqir, a third-year medical student at AKU, as she spoke about improving communication to salvage happiness.

The youngest igniter to date is 19-year-old Hassan bin Fahim, a tech entrepreneur and college student who built his first website at the age of 10. He spoke via video call about his website, which is the world's first non-profit, free web hosting company.

"It aims to facilitate the spread of information technology within Pakistan by empowering individuals and businesses, without having to worry about technical lexicon and costs," he said while speaking about the scope of social entrepreneurship in the IT sector. His website has more than 13,000 registered users who have created websites using his platform. These users range from a visually impaired person from interior Sindh to farmers.

Taha Sabri, a freelance health consultant and doctor, spoke of his experience in Abbas Town and his organisation Humanity Initiative. "Social work doesn't have to be a drab or morbid affair, so have fun while you are at it," he said, as the slides showed pictures of volunteers with children.

Read: 2010 Flood report: Culprits promoted rather than punished

Mayera Tufail, another second-year medical student spoke of revolutionising the way medicine is taught all over the world. She explained medical concepts through a comic strip, a poem and a stop-motion video and hoped to publish something of her own to change the way medicine is taught in classrooms.

"There is no restriction as long as you have an idea that is worth igniting," said Huma Baqir as she invited people to become igniters or become a part of their ignite team for the Ignite 4 that will take place in January 2016.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 7th, 2015. 


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