Imagine yourself in a situation when it is 3 am of a chilling cold winter night of December in Lahore, layers of fog prevailing all around making everything invisible and on the deserted roads of the city, two adolescents of about 22 years age are but trying to hurry up to a hospital and unluckily their motorbike has also got punctured and all they could do is drag the vehicle with them and, indifferent to the intensity of the weather, keep briskly walking towards their destination which still is quite 4-5 KM away.
This is one of the many illustrious glimpses of the selfless, passionate and unprecedented dedication which JZT (Jehaad For Zero Thalassemia) office-bearers are teemed with. One of the two lads Mr. Khan Muhammed was in charge of emergency blood donation in Lahore and the other was a voluntary blood donor. Someone waiting for them in hospital was not any of their blood relatives neither were these two to each other. The one waiting at hospital was a helpless, stranger from a far-off area of south Punjab and Khan Muhammed had recently got a call to donate blood for their dying kid and these two had somehow identified that the boy who was willing to donate needed to be picked to the place and the other, who had actually got the call, went on to help him reach the point of mercy.
JZT has evolved to be the most unique set up of its type in the whole world which, right from its founding by a third semester student Mr. Ghulam Dastgir, is growing rapidly and is being run by office bearers who are students from various prestigious colleges and universities. A mission launched by just one man has now impacted more than 100 cities and almost as many colleges and universities of all the provinces and the journey is still on.
Just 6 years in age, JZT has already done momentous job in helping more than 20,000 blood emergency cases, about 1000 thalassemia major patients and adopting about 500 thalassemic kids. The VISION 2016 as established in 2012 is programmed to meet its objectives soon and JZT team from all over the country is all set to make sure that not even a single thalassemia major patient be born in Pakistan after 2016. All energies are being invested to make it happen.
What carries more significance is the infrastructure knit by its founder along with a team of leaders who plan strategy for whole country. The way JZT’s hierarchy has been organized with a professional fabric from its national level to the union council level committees is one grand area to be researched about. More focus has been laid on making this work for humanity more memorable and entertaining and this has been stringently substantiated by the formation of various departments which not only keep the thalassemic kids entertained and the social work boosted but also provide chance for JZT workers to hone their innate skills and creativity. The way its departments have been named speaks volumes of the creativity of the JZT leadership. “Each One Ease One” is the department that deals in adopting thalassemic kids on one-on-one formula. ICU is the Intensive Care Unit to deal with any blood emergency anywhere. TIP is the Teachers’ Induction Program to motivate teachers to assist this initiative of students. JZTickX is yet the department covering all major happenings everywhere. IVA is the Inter-Varsity Affairs unit that provides liaison between all the chapters. All the designing and graphics are managed by the team itself. JZT, by now, has become an enterprise which would provide all stages to promote transformational leadership and would allow its workers to participate in activities which may make them better organized social workers than just volunteers. Even the funCART department brings forth the best ever plays and mimes, involving thalassemic kids as actors, and proving a channel where JZT workers learn to polish their own communication skills and public talking acumen.
Then there are lucrative awards and honors conferred to the office bearers who put in extraordinary effort to make humanity win.
The expanse of huge events organized annually for the get-together of JZT workers from all over the country have been named VOLCON [VOLunteers’ CONvention]. VOLCON poses yet another window where the climax of creativity can be witnessed along with a chance of interaction for all volunteers who then take away the motivation to implement in their respective regions. JZT team so far has organized numerous such VOLCONs along with national level marathons for this cause.
More fulfilling is the fact that most of the funding needed for the promotion of this cause comes from the pockets of its own volunteers, even those who have now graduated from their respective chapters. This is what has been nurturing this cause. This highlights the legacy in a more commendable way.
Talking about the stereotypes JZT team has combated with so far; they are numerous. JZT team did not submit to the resistance from some militant groups when they started to spread this message in FATA. They utilized all their intelligence and otherwise resources to call a Jirga to motivate the chieftains to support this initiative. Universities in Karachi did not agree to JZT owing to its name “Jehaad”. Many non-Muslim volunteers stepped up to support this word “Jehaad” as the purest form of struggle for the betterment of the community. Even some political agitators tried to harass our workers for being associated with JZT but they still kept on helping the sufferers so much so that some blood donation camps were even arranged on footpaths and public grounds to facilitate thalassemia patients. JZT in KPK is majorly being led by Yumna Sardar, who has proved through her extraordinary managerial skills that a region presumably supposed to be unfit for girls to be working for such humanitarian cause can be turned into a place where girls may take to leading positions for such a dynamic cause. JZT has even managed to bring its volunteers together on cultural grounds by promoting more and more cultural artifices and performances on annual get-togethers and by promoting multi-lingual video messages through social media. This has immensely helped in connecting diverse nations to come to one platform and has been key contributor in team’s harmony and goodwill. JZT office bearers hailing from the far-off areas of Gilgit Baltistan have to travel for hours to be able to meet each other and plan activities for the community service and they take pride in such self-assigned tasks. Areas of lower Punjab and rural Sindh where people are governed more by illiteracy and subsequent traditional customs, awareness campaigns like JZT become yet more big a challenge and threat than just a rewarding social work cause. JZT office bearers have diligently helped themselves in helping the community against all such challenges. The remote areas of Baluchistan like Ziarat, Dera Bugti and Zhob, JZTeers have struggled very hard to convince the locals that their belief about Thalassemia being linked to sorcery or stuff was just an illusion and that their kids deserved proper care to live after provision of blood for them. Representatives from almost all the religions have also stood in support of this Jehaad esp. Sir Gur Charn Singh representing the Sikh Community, Manish Kumar representing the Hindus and many others take pride in being associated to this cause.
The role played by teachers can never be alienated from the growth matrix of JZT. An MPhil Thesis submitted and graded recently at Lahore College for Women University by Ghadhia Cheema on the topic of “JZT as a social enterprise and need of premarital testing” is in itself a gigantic example of the apex JZT has touched as a social work enterprise.
JZT is an open book. It is now the fastest growing network of volunteers and social entrepreneurs all over Pakistan which is currently operating in KPK, Sindh, Baluchistan, Punjab, Azad Kashmir, Giglit Baltistan, FATA with equal zeal. JZT team believes that every Pakistani must support our cause to make sure that thalassemia is kicked out of our homeland for good.
Last but not the least is the trend JZT has introduced to promote the concept of “Backup Leadership”. At every level of hierarchy, 12 people are marked as officers who are self-complementing in terms of duties and capabilities. Starting from the national executive council to the lowest level of organization, all office-bearers ensure that individuals are groomed parallel to be able to look after the cause in the absence of their prime leader. This will surely ensure someday that programs as huge as JZT do not stop due to absence of individuals. This is helping in making the system more strong than the individuals.
Working with JZT is highly enriching and wonderfully entertaining. JZT is far more than just a student club or society. It is in fact a movement. It is a campaign. IT is a platform where anyone can contribute his/her part quite freely and proudly. IT has also been observed quite a times that a mention about JZT on our officers’ CVs has helped them in getting confirmed jobs. This is more rewarding financially than anything else.
Written by Shumaila Jamshed