Dear faithful blog readers,
Unfortunately, I had to leave Pakistan for health reasons and am now back in Munich. Since I arrived in Lahore three weeks ago, my stomach has been giving me troubles. I tried everything to adjust to Pakistani food, but my body stubbornly resisted these efforts. All in all, I’ve lost about 5 kg of weight. In the end, I decided it was not worth to jeopardize my health. Keeping a rice-and-banana diet for two more weeks was also not an option (I had eaten not much else for the preceding weeks already). Eventually, I rebooked my flight and showed up at Simon’s doorsteps unannounced on Thursday. It was a nice surprise!
Despite these issues, I still managed to get a lot of work done, both for my PhD and for the home. In several visits I made to the home and to Sister Hend, the Pakistani coordinator of the project, we’ve laid the foundation for our future work. The most important point in all this is always to build trust with people. Openness and transparency are crucial for any kind of development work. So much foreign aid in Pakistan fails because of the disconnectedness between Western donors and local staff that creates misunderstandings. Most of it is really a communication problem. We’ve always tried to avoid falling into the same trap. The change we want to initiate has to start from the people at our home. It’s their work, after all, and their life. We can only assist them in their own cause and walk a bit of the way together with them. We’ve never imposed our own ideas on them, but took their experiences and ideas seriously. Even though change often comes frustratingly slow and not without immense effort, we still feel it’s worthwhile. In the past two years alone, so many things have improved, from clean water to a better environment and more accountability on part of the staff. It’s often a delicate balance and many things remain imperfect. Still, we can look with pride on the fact that today people on the ground feel motivated by our support, encouraged by our interest in what they do, challenged by the new ideas we confront them with, and most of all, respected and moved by the fact that we acknowledge the immense effort and energy they put into this work on a daily basis. It is the caregivers’s faithful service on the ground that is truly humbling to us and that actually teaches us a lesson or two about compassion and dedication.
Thanks for continuing to read so far! And don’t forget to check our website for upcoming projects and infos: omidepunjab.com!