My Friend Perveen

By Fozia Qureshi

An extraordinarily talented and dedicated human, Perveen was a friend and a colleague who was unfailingly cheerful, helpful and supportive. I first met her in 1983 when I started working at the AKU and had the amazing good luck to interact with Dr Akhtar Hameed Khan of the Orangi Pilot Project (OPP) while developing the Primary Health Care field programs for the Department of Community Health Sciences.

parveen-rehmanPerveen had just joined the OPP’s housing and sanitation program in 1983 and worked with Arif Hasan in implementing the immensely successful underground sewerage project that brought an effective and affordable sanitation program to the poor in Orangi. The approach was, and is, to encourage and strengthen community initiatives while promoting social development in partnership with the people themselves while restricting the OPP to providing technical guidance. Long lasting partnerships evolved for development based on local resources and have been channeled into other self-help schemes like education, health and microcredit. The program has been as successfully replicated by a thousand other disadvantaged communities.

guest-contributorAlong with Dr Ahtar Hameed Khan, Perveen helped me understand social development and what dedication and commitment are all about. A brilliant teacher, Perveen unfailing and willingly took time out to share her learning with the undergraduates at AKU along with hundreds of others who sought training and experience in social evolution and progress.

It is difficult to describe the huge shock I experienced when I heard that the fates had cruelly snipped short the life thread of an irreplaceable person so dear to me and countless others. Only humans can behave with such inhumanity to people who work selflessly to help others. These armed thugs imagine themselves to be Allah’s spokesperson but are really just profiteers moved only by self-interest.

My heart goes out to Perveen’s mother and sister.

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