The PWA–Patients Welfare Association, MashAllah is completing its 40th year of services, mainly by the students of the then Dow Medical College and now Dow University of Health Sciences. The PWA is one of the success stories and thus everyone talks, praises and wishes to contribute. However, it’s always interesting to learn what happened in 1979 which led to the establishment of this activity by the three students. Of course, all three of us have been friends and have our own versions according to what the internal, as well as external factors, influenced us. Abdul Rahman, Mohammad Iqbal and I Inayat Thaver, then were class-mates & worked together. So the inside story below is entirely my version and perspective and by no means refuting others. Last not but the least, you may find many similarities in my story, but let us not forget that it is only Allah (SWT), Who bestowed some of us to do some good deeds; without His guidance, no one can do any good deed.
One my uncle’s (a big businessman) had been giving me the charity money of PKR 250/month to be given to poor patients in Civil Hospital Karachi and would ask for the details each month; I have been doing it regularly. The second factor that played a major role in making PWA a reality was that in 1979, there were language riots and all the students’ unions and activities were banned; in fact the college was closed for an indefinite period; so we were spending most of the time in hospital wards and learning, running around and supporting our seniors. The third and the most important factor in my life though was a small incidence but was a turning point. Abdul Rahman’s niece was admitted in Children’s word and the attending lady doctor one day told us that baby needs to be given 100cc of blood and asked us to arrange for it. We, as usual, went to the blood bank and requested for blood which was supposed to be bought by “regular blood-sellers” (mostly poor and many of them addicts). However, to our surprise, we were told that they are on strike and asking for a raise for one pint of blood from PKR. 100-125. So, we went looking for them at nearby places and an adjacent hospital. We met few of them, requested them, did a lot of bargains, but none of them was willing to sell the blood. Ultimately, dejected we went to the lady doctor and told her the whole story. She was not only very upset but also shouted at us that “its only 100cc; we bleed more than that each month and nothing happens, why don’ you give it yourself”. Well, well that was very stunning & challenging to us. We looked at each other and of course, realized the condition of the baby and agreed that I will be the volunteer to give blood. so that was my first experience and thought “well that’s not bad and the voluntary blood may be given by my other colleagues in college”. So we slowly started that process also. In the meantime I mentioned this to my uncle; he suggested why don’t we organize it in a formal way; I replied him jokingly that ” I wish to pass my final year MBBS in the first attempt and not get involved in this time-consuming activities”. However, The discussion and planning process commenced among us; the name, logo, and motto were proposed and agreed. The biggest hurdle was to open an account in Bank and it had to be mainly authorized by the Principal of the college. As expected, she refused saying that “you students have ways of making money, I will not sign it”. So here comes another help (as I said Allah is always there to guide!!), we went to Dr. Camer Villani; he was a “guru” to us by his style and approach; we were running after him at midnight to see “filaria” (hahah). We told him the whole story, he, as usual, mumbled and nodded to go ahead for signing the Bank Account and also to be our first ‘patron’. That was a big breakthrough and thus we opened the account, we printed the letter-heads, we developed a system for giving medicines and we also went to heads of some of the major departments needing blood about the availability of volunteered blood, mainly by the students. One would not believe that our quota was only 6-8 bags of blood per month; so sometimes the Professors were upset also, especially Prof. Mushtaq who at that time had started ‘doing liver transplant surgery’ and asked for many pints of blood; he was also our second patron, just before Prof. Zakiuddin Oonwala.
Last but not the last twist in the story (remember Allah is orchestrating it all the way) was when our final exams. dates were announced and we could not then spend a lot of time distributing medicines and convincing our colleagues to donate blood. Then we got hold of Dr. Yousuf Jan Muhammad, Dr. Hanif and some more. Though they were a bit reluctant but agreed to work under our support/supervision. Then, we realized that it may be very difficult to work even after graduation and since we called it as students’ activity, we decided for PWA to be a students’ run organization and the graduates would play the role of supporters and advisers. Initially, it was a selection process, but later when we had many memebers we moved on to a semi-selection-election process and by and large it worked very smoothly.
Moral of the story is many; it begins with a good intention, commitment & persistence to do it, ignoring the criticisms, working in a team, and above all not ‘owning’ something that has been initiated. And the outcome is a lifelong ‘sadqae-jaaria’, supporting so many families, ones own grooming and nurturing for leadership and team approach skills. However, just keep in mind that many among us, may have all the ingredients described above, but if there is no guidance and ‘taufeeq’ by Allah, nothing can happen. In this journey of PWA, let us not forget our generous supporters and other well-wishers also. PWA is a story of teamwork initiated by students but having so many external supports; Alhamdulillah. May Allah grant us to continue all the good deeds, selflessly and without having expectations of getting any reward.