Oh yeah! The same old “be yourself” and “you can do it” stuff, right?
Haha, yeah right! But you do get to have some good “khaaba” dude, let’s go.
Wait? Where is it?
Muk…Mukshpuri peak? Haha, What a weird Idea man. They are going to teach us leadership at some honeymoon spot?
Yeah well, that’s funny. And WHAT? A payment of Twenty..Five..Thousand..and that’s a discounted rate? OMG.
Man I can party the whole month with this much money, and they are asking it for a 4 day leadership training? Lol.
This was my conversation when I first heard of this Pakistan’s first wilderness based youth leadership conference – #MARKHOR14.
But wait what? Although the conversation was negative & unfruitful. I applied, got selected, got the scholarship, and decided to go so i could experience a different weekend. The first sight of Markhor was boring for me; since there were unknown and incompatible people- a few of them having boring discussions- so I decided to turn my 3G internet on and uploaded a status “feeling #Markhored at #Mukhspuri peak” – I got a handful of 43 likes on this one and I was like the happiest man on earth: D, I smirked at those people involved in boring discussions and rested my head on the headrest, feeling satisfied. Just when I was about to upload my second status “feeling satisfied – after uploading my last status” the dream of getting even more likes on this one shattered away as the norm of the conference was announced – and that was, NO Cellphones, no gadgets.
I jerked my head in despair, gave him my cellphone and thought, a leadership conference with no cellphone? GOD! Am I living in the 18th century or something? And the icing on the cake, soon I was sent into a completely different set of people – my tribe. A couple of them asked me about my name and introduction – I reciprocated, and it felt good. After all it wasn’t that bad meeting new people from extreme Northern & southern areas of my country, I never knew such diversity existed?
The quality of Markhor that appealed to me the most, perhaps, was its adventurous nature. I have always found in myself a yearning, an unrelenting passion for the wild. Trekking in the wilderness of Mukshpuri provided me with a prospect of finally getting away from all the blustering hassle of Islamabad, from my exasperating monotonous daily chores. I was leading my tribe and my tribe was leading the rest of the participants. As we toiled our way up, we had to pause, at several points, just for other members to catch up their breath and regain their strength. Initially, having to stop so frequently irked me. The whole exercise made absolutely no sense to me and I wondered what’s wrong with everybody taking the hike at his own pace without worrying about the rest. But later, as we progressed physically further, I found my mind growing more patient and compromising. I think of myself to be very lucky to have learned perhaps the most fundamental of all lessons; Collaboration and Teamwork. Later that night when we were sitting around a bonfire and everyone was sharing their thoughts about the hike, a guy stepped forward and said, “While we were trekking and it grew very dark, it became very scary for some of us, one of our female tribe mate felt very hungry and dehydrated. There I saw some amazing teamwork and sacrifice, another tribe mate opened her bag up, she took a bar of chocolate, and although it was barely enough for one person, eight of us shared it and we took a few sips of water each and after a mere five minute break we continued but this time, it wasn’t difficult anymore – we were all fresh and passionate again”
The bonfire was inspiring, I had never met such talented people in my life. They were all young & students like me yet they were all ripe with passion, eager to doing something extra ordinary. A girl shared her story – she loved cats – all she used to do was to treat injured cats she came across in her daily routine. And by now she has treated hundreds of them. Then there was this guy who was the victim of the social pressure that pushed him to pursue a field of study he wasn’t interested in. But instead of staying disappointed he was passionate about making a non-profit organization, one that would provide students with the career counseling at the right time. It was so refreshing to see so many hands go up when he asked the audience if anyone of them would like to work with him. I raised my hand too and for that I’m proud.
The next three days were fantabulous…! From teamwork games to leadership training lectures by corporate heads, from knowing about different Pakistani cultures at cultural night to meeting random Markhors here & there, it was not just more than what I expected – rather it was life changing – my approach towards life was different now – I had started to count what my capabilities are – I had started to ponder on my reason of creation – I had started to think on opportunities that would lead me to bring some social positive change.
The last day at Mukshpuri peak is so memorable, for the first time in my life I planned for something that was not urgent, but important. I planned the coming 40 years of my life, I was provided with a pen & a paper, the norm of the day was to hear the unheard, so the environment was quite as it could be with no human interference. I chose a lonely rock at the edge of the mountain; it was just me, the bright sunshine on the lush green mountain, fresh & clean atmosphere and a lot of questions in my mind – about me – my future – and my purpose of life. I actually travelled in time, jotting it all up on the paper, I realized that I was existing because there is a reason for my existence and I have to do something for this society and Pakistan. i was a selfish teenager a mere week ago, I hardly had time to ask my siblings how they felt, and here I was planning to bring social positive changes? Wonderful, isn’t it?
Markhor made me learn a lot. I always thought cleaning my room was totally useless and that being messy is cool but on our way back from Mukshpuri peak we left no trace – we cleared all the mess up, and surprisingly – this wasn’t boring and time taking at all. i pondered for a while and I realized that we develop perceptions on empirical basis – and often we do not try things just because they look difficult which they actually aren’t.
The twenty four hours that followed were quite eventful; the “social positive change” I planned to bring was still unclear and confusing. Just like other citizens of a developing but full of potential country – I had this urge deep somewhere in my mind to see Pakistan at a better level. So I got the chance to discuss this better Pakistan & its formulation with my fellow passionate youth and the mature trainers.
And now when I am on my way back to my hometown, I have this little piece of paper in my hand which will be the statement of objective of my struggle, and that is
“I will strive for a Pakistan that is truly independent, self-reliant, politically stable, socially cohesive and economically vibrant. Where foundational principles of faith unity and discipline are practiced in a way that prosperity, forbearance and happiness prevail; where the life, property, honor and dignity of every citizen is protected, where the principles of merit and rule of law help every citizen enjoy equal access to quality health, education and employment. A Pakistan that is attractive to the world because of its friendly people, rich culture, ethical and moral values, creativity and innovation, diversity, natural beauty and topography , and above all for its role in creating a win-win paradigm at global level”