By: Tehsin Shah

The budgerigar parrots are one of the most lovable multi-colored birds of the avian family. Perhaps the most widely kept birds that humans have domesticated. I am lucky to have two such beautiful pairs at home and it surely is a treat watching them each morning chirping in their own distinct language. But we all know that this particular species of birds is the most difficult to befriend. Probably due to their timid nature, they do not get accustomed to human interaction. The closer we get to them or try to get attached to them; we witness their display of apprehension. However, one fine morning, when I went to greet my budgies (as they are nicknamed) with their breakfast of bajra and water, I noticed an unprecedented behavior from their end. They were not afraid of my movements at all. In fact, all four of them anxiously gathered at the opening of their cage, as if they were delighted to see me. I thought that since they had grown used to my presence, they were showing their sense of longing for my company. But that’s not what transpired. Yes, the sympathetic birds were famished. Their hunger had caused them to ignore me altogether. They could not see anything around but food. I watched them eat to their fill and quench their thirst and a sense of relief set in.

In satiating our hunger for food, we humans are no different than these budgies. The global pandemic of COVID-19 has struck the global community to its core. So far, social distancing and lockdowns seem to be the only practical weapons in our arsenal capable of countering this lethal contagion. Let us take a closer look into the urban theatre of Karachi. The once thriving metropolis known as the city of lights has plunged into darkness owing to this pandemic. Since the government has enforced strict lockdown to exercise social distancing via the assistance of law enforcement agencies, the most severely affected chunk of our city’s population is the underprivileged poor. The resilient Pakistani labor has been deprived of the meager daily wage which was the only source of livelihood for his family. How will I manage to provide for my family today if I am not allowed to go out and earn? How will I buy the provision for them? What if my kids ask me for that inexpensive candy floss? Will my family be able to make it through these turbulent times? Who will be our savior? These are some of the many heart wrenching questions running through the mind of a person whose only source of earning lies in the urban and rural wilderness of Karachi.

This is where our true saviors step in. Yes, the non-governmental organizations of our society who have heard the poor man’s desperate call for help in this dire hour of need. Working tirelessly through the scorching heat of the day and planning out the next day’s strategy through the night to reach out to the poor, these volunteers not only deserve praise but also our all-out support and contribution. Rather than writing out a will to distribute millions to the people after one’s death, a small monetary and moral contribution while one is still alive is far more worthy in the eyes of the Creator. Through the help of social media, we are continually being updated with the immense efforts of our NGOs in reaching out to the far-flung areas.

The Edhi Foundation, Saylani Welfare, JDC Foundation, to mention a few, are already proving their mettle in helping the needy in this critical hour. These volunteers are on a mission. They have proved that they are not bound by manifestos of any political party. Their manifesto is to help without prejudice to race, color, creed, religion and ethnicity. JDC Foundation, led by Mr. Syed Zafar Abbas, deserves a standing ovation for leading by example. Tons of ration including flour, pulses, grains, roti are brought in to the warehouses they have arranged, packed and assembled under strict supervision and then distributed to all in need across the city. People have been very kind to allocate their schools as warehouses. As of 1st April, JDC Foundation took on its payroll the unemployed riders of one mobile food delivery company, to augment this not-for-profit supply chain. This was a delightful news. Saylani Welfare Trust, led by the valorous Maulana Bashir Farooq Qadri is another prominent example of unfaltering efforts in distribution of food to the underprivileged. The inspiration to all the NGOs comes from the late Mr. Abdul Sattar Edhi who truly set a benchmark in his lifetime of dedicating himself not only to the people of Pakistani but to the global community as a whole. He took the bold and gargantuan task of raising a sum of US$ 100,000 as aid relief for the disaster victims of South America’s hurricane Katrina back in 2005. We cannot thank him enough. When calling 115 in Pakistan, the Edhi Foundation will answer “People have become educated but have yet to become human”. This statement alone is a wakeup call for us. The list of laurels for such organizations led by selfless personalities goes on and cannot be put into words. It is about time that we as people at all levels start doing our part in nurturing a better Pakistan. Support the NGOs in whatever capacity we can. Even a single sack of flour will suffice the hunger of a poor family in these times of awe and despair. Kudos to our brave volunteers who serve without expecting a return but prayers and blessings of the masses. Without any doubt, they are our true heroes, our true