Saturday, 8 October 2011

Behind every successful event is an unlikely team!

Watching the Kaghan Valley illuminated by the most beautiful full-moon at 3 am, huddled in front of a little stove in a tent while a hailstorm tries to rip it apart, singing along to ridiculous songs while sitting in each others' laps in open jeeps riding the bumpiest roads... 

These are just a few moments from one of the most exciting, exhilarating and inspiring weeks I've ever had while organising the TCKP Tour of The Himalayas 2011 International Mountain Bike Race and Mountain Bike Tour with The Kaghan Memorial Trust (KMT) in aid of its Kaghan Memorial School (KMS) between 14 and 20 September, 2011.  When I got back and saw all the media coverage which the event attracted, mainly due to the fact that in times when even Pakistanis living abroad think twice before coming here, we had around 30 International male and female mountain bikers coming all the way to Pakistan to compete in an event for no personal gain and to benefit children from an area which they had never visited before, I realised there is still so much more to the event that external media reports cannot cover. We all know that events don't get organised overnight and usually there is a group of people toiling away in the background to make things happen, what I found particularly interesting in this case was the combination of people that comprised the Orgnanising Committee of this particular event. 

I have had the privilege of working with KMT for well over 4 years now which has given me the opportunity to spend a great deal of time with people from varying backgrounds and cultures, belonging to countries ranging from the US, UK, Canada, New Zealand, Autsralia, Bosnia, Turkey and Sweden. Other than giving me endless opportunities to act as interpreter (even though my own Urdu is hardly above standard!) and tell a wide array of people about my culture, especially from a woman's perspective, it gave me the opportunity to learn about their diverse cultures. But above all these things it drove home the fact that humanity has no race, language or creed. After a long day when we would sit together to unwind, we were all just a bunch of women going through similar problems identifying with each other's emotions. Moments like those have made my time working with these amazing women truly memorable.

The race itself, which attracted a large number of foreigners to our benighted nation, not only reinforced this concept of humanity, but also makes one realise how false reports of intolerance regarding our country are. True, we are divided into endless groups and target each other in hatred, yet when it comes to guests from abroad, even people belonging to the most backward or least exposed areas were nothing but friendly and hospitable. Watching the rapport that developed between my people and "the foreigners" over the week touched my heart. Furthermore, when we were all caught unprepared with spare warm clothing in the middle of a hailstorm atop Paya, every one rushed to give their coats to the riders to keep them warm after the race. I can't help but think, why are we otherwise so preoccupied by differences and hatred when at the end of the day it does not matter? If an unlikely team of people from differing backgrounds and cultures can come together to make one event successful, why can't we come together more often at a much larger scale and solve much bigger problems that affect us all?

Moving on from my rambling, it was also touching to see the children of the School that this event aimed to benefit so excited by the race and it's participants. They learnt about the countries that the cyclists came from and they were also the spectators on the third day of the race, counting down with the Managing Trustee as he signalled the start of the race. The people who work with the organisation and are helping us in making this project possible also happen to be foreign volunteers who have come all the way to Pakistan to support a cause which is of no personal benefit to them or their countries. Things like these make one regain some of one's faith and hope in mankind. If only our own people were also more willing to practically participate in projects that bring about social change instead of spending most of their time being cynical, things could probably turn out much better for Pakistan.

How can I overlook the overwhelming beauty of our surroundings?! Words cannot accurately describe the breathtaking beauty of the Kaghan Valley and it's changing moods. The wonderful feeling of closeness to Allah (SWT) through the beauty of His creation. Funny how we rush to travel abroad for our vacations yet many of us have yet not explored the varying beautiful landscapes of our country!

Lake Saif ul Maluk
All in all, I could never write enough on the marvellous experience I had helping organise the TCKP Tour of The Himalayas! It was a truly exhilarating experience that will live in my memories for a very long time. Not to forget, the wonderful people I had the opportunity to meet and get to know! :-)

The Kaghan Memorial Trust is a non-profit charitable Trust registered in Islamabad in the aftermath of the earthquake that struck Northern Pakistan in October 2005. One of the Trust's immediate objectives is to establish the Kaghan Memorial School which provides free high quality education, health care, meals and clothing to the earthquake affected children of the Kaghan Valley. KMT organises various fundraising events as part of its Income Generation Programme to support the School, one of which is the Tour of The Himalayas. More details on the Trust can be found on their website:

1 comment:

  1. I am mesmarised with that image of Lake Saif ul Muluk. My craving to visit pakistan has increased a notch higher :)