A small window opens and light shines through, light that previously had been drowned in the darkness that surrounded it…The light that before this had no means of escaping its bounds. This light, this utterly blinding light is what engulfs a city in Southern Punjab called Burewala, found its way out through the powerful lense of Ahmed Sarim. Ahmed, a resident of this beautiful yet unsung area of Pakistan found inspiration in mainstream and well-known projects like Humans of NewYork and Humans of Pakistan.He through the guiding light of these projects developed a vision of his own, a vision that would soon gain acceptance and supporters across the country.At a fairly young age, Ahmed was able to wield his talents and ambition to bring forth a side of Burewala and its citizens that the had been carefully tucked away, through a project called Humans of Burewala.
Ahmed Sarim, now seventeen is the eldest child in his family, He stands today as living breathing proof that you don’t need mountains of money to make your voice heard, that all you need is a dream and enough courage to actually reach out for that seemingly distant and unrealistic end goal.By the age of ten, Ahmed Sarim had read almost all of the English classics, which would explain his affinity for writing. If one were to guess, they wouldn’t expect Ahmed to be a self-taught photographer, who loves to travel and is learning Turkish.. for these seem to be phrases that are describing an ordinary person…But that’s just what he is, an ordinary man that accomplished an extraordinary feat.
In his own words, ” I always believed that behind every eye is a story… A whole new world waiting to be explored… Inspired by HONY and HOP I wanted to apply something similar in my city too. One night during my O levels exams I randomly made the page and posted a video and an interview with an icecream seller. I woke up to find that it had gone viral across my city…Then I started Humans Of Burewala with the vision of giving the common people around my city a voice and to bridge the gap in the society by showing that deep down we all are same… I got an overwhelming response in my city.
I still felt that much still needed to be done… Along with photojournalism, I started a new chapter in HOB which involved welfare and social services with the mission of spreading smiles and removing differences in the society.”
Ahmed did not stop after his immense success regarding Humans of Burewala, but instead, he used this opportunity to accomplish even more.Ever since his Facebook page caught enough speed and garnered enough supporters, he has been working hard to provide a helping hand wherever it is needed. Humans of Burewala has been functioning as not only the biggest media house but also the biggest non-governmental organization in that particular area, with Ahmed being the youngest person to have ever taken an initiative such as this. His project now has become multi-faceted with him and his team in other projects such as; Launching cleanliness awareness programs in slums and schools, equipping special education school with educational and multimedia tools, spending eid at the slums, organizing food drives, promoting local businesses and entrepreneurs in the city, arranging winter cloth drives for the needy and producing video documentaries for different causes aimed at making a differences in society. His commendable actions have not only been supported by the public but also the government, with different organizations like the City Municipal Authority and Municipal Authority not only commending all of his efforts but also partnering up with Ahmed and his team to raise awareness and make the city a better place to live. Another important project and feat of Humans of Burewala are that they have partnered up with an International Organisation called ‘Sight For Life’ which is a huge step taken to eradicate eye-related diseases in the area.
When asked about inspiration, Ahmed Sarim reveals that although he found his vision through projects like HONY and HOP his real inspiration has always been his parents, who themselves have been participating actively in social causes and have always helped those in distress.His parents, in a way, have acted as beacons and guided Ahmed Sarim to the path that he walks upon now, as he remembers that from a very young age he accumulated inspiration and experience while working by their side regarding such causes.
The biggest goal for Humans of Burewala has always been to bring people together by eradicating differences (communal or non-communal), as Ahmed Sarim hopes that through media he can positively influence people and bring them together.The end goal is to revive morals and empathy that society seems to have abandoned in a dusty corner somewhere along the road. His wish is that somehow through his work he can initiate a discussion regarding matters that need to be addressed. In his own words, “I want people to discuss more moral values and intellect. Sadly our main problem is not the lack of education but the lack of moral values… If we work on our Morals collectively then change would be inevitable.”
Although their main forum right now is Facebook, the creator has expressed his wish to expand this project into a website soon. If we look through their facebook page, we will see many ordinary faces like those of individuals, such as Haji Liaquat (Tandi wala baba), Lieutenant Abdul Moeed, Sir Shah Muhammad, Mr Shakeel and many others, accompanied by their stories. Stories that would have been left to wither away with time if it were not for Ahmed Sarim that carefully preserved them through his project for future generations.
Ahmed Sarim along with Humans of Burewala aims to bring forth positive change in the society. To quote the man himself, ” I want to be someone who has raised a voice against social injustice. I want to be someone who matters… 10 years into the future I hope I am happy no matter wherever I am.” If we look at everything Ahmed has accomplished in life already, one can safely say that he indeed brought forth a change by raising his voice in order to let others be heard. If it were not already obvious that Ahmed embodied wisdom way beyond his years his contemplative way thinking only reinstalls that fact, as though his responses it becomes clear that he already sees the society for what it is and is easily able to pinpoint the reasons for its decline, something which even the mightiest political leaders of our time are unable to do. He concludes that the restlessness and decline in society can be ultimately be credited to the differences that we ourselves have built between us. He says, “We will excel once we are free from political, religious and social differences. We will excel when we leave our personal beliefs for a moment and work united for a greater purpose… I will quote the same as Rumi quoted once,
“Out beyond the ideas of wrong & right, There is a field .. I’ll meet you there… ”
Lets us all meet there….”
Humans of Burewala has acted like a much-needed loudspeaker for the public of Burewala and it can only be hoped that Ahmed Sarim and his team find even more success to accompany their endeavours. He and his team allowed the masses to step out from the shadows and provided them with a platform where they can gather to tell their stories and problems. The work that he has done for the society, the details of which are easily accessible on the HOB page, has allowed the city to start taking steps towards a more bright and positive future. It can only be hoped that other people get inspired by Ahmed and his work and decide to play their part in bringing the people of our nation together and making the country a better place.