To be in a room full of highly empathetic, engaged, active and effective students as I was yesterday at the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) is NOT who the Global Poverty Project 1.4 Billion Reasons presentation was designed for.
However, this was a wonderful soul-enriching presentation where you could feel the mutual admiration and inspiration and see it like the pollution that hangs in Pakistani cities by sunset. This is wonderful for both of us but not really that effective for the world’s poorest.
See, the thing is the world’s poorest need those not already invested in social justice and equality – yes, we can always do more and enjoy moving up and along that advocacy spectrum but really it takes everyone to do their little bit.
BioReach was born as an idea for some of the NUST students in the bioscience faculty to put their learning and passions for epidemiology and biological science into advocacy for social justice. So a powerful young woman, Fatima (pictured right), set about getting some friends together to do this and kind of work and make it formal.
Back in February this year my colleague Michael Sheldrick from GPP happened to be invited to Pakistan to give a presentation and gave that last little straw for Fatima’s camel to be broken and to put some resolve and action into her un-motley crew. I say un-motley but they are beautifully spoken, highly intelligent and well organized, unlike their Australian presenter (I mean me not Michael). Fatima put it all into action to form a society to put their passions and knowledge into social awareness, engagement and justice.
Since February the BioReach Society efforts have been amazing…
- A Facebook and twitter account that has regular updates and statistics on polio, dengue and other related diseases – creating a public knowledge base and go to source of information
- Teamed up with the GPP and The End of Polio campaign and have their own photo petition page with currently over 450 photos of Pakistani people showing their support for the eradication of polio in Pakistan (http://www.theendofpolio.com/pakistan) add your photo if you are Pakistani! Plus they have another almost 1000 ready to add and hope to grow this to 2013 photos by February 2013 when they will hand it to various agencies
- They have put posters and information around their university to create attention and awareness on diseases that affect the world’s poor
- For the last Pakistan Australia T20 cricket match a couple of months ago they booked one of the lecture rooms and held a viewing of this match while slipping in bits of information about polio, dengue and their society – it was a great turn out (yay! 🙂 ) and Pakistan won the cricket (boo! 😉 )
- Fatima and Saba the now Secretary and President of this wonderful society did immeasurable amount of planning and organising for my visit to give the GPP presentation – you wouldn’t believe how much red tape they had to go through!
So while this presentation is not really for the likes of the NUST BioReach Society it does provide a wonderful exchange of information and inspiration so we can both learn from each other and improve our reach to those who are new to these topics and issues and give them the platform to be a part of the movement that can see the global eradication of polio and the end of extreme poverty.
And at the time of writing I still haven’t even given the 8-hour workshop on advocacy which is coming up today! A load of learning for us all I’m sure will be had!