About 6:30am, in the beautiful morning of October 20th, when our plane touched the land of Melbourne, I was trying to reunite myself with the past two years. A two years life which echoes short but matter a lot to me- to get closer to nature, to think of people, to realize mistakes and to overcome challenges which I often thought being difficult…
And this is the journey I started with The Climate Reality Project having a family of very special presenters who are part of my life.
My journey started exactly from the same Melbourne I came during in the 2009 winter of Australia. I found many things changed- perhaps to make myself more real to life. I came to Australia second time and this time weather of Melbourne of mix of unpredictable days- didn’t know about every coming days; would it be hot, cold or sunshine to feel the warmth of Melbourne’ love?
“So how is the weather of Melbourne”? This was the most difficult question that I couldn’t respond to my sister talking to me on phone. “The morning I was late to wake up and expected for sunshine, I rushed out to catch my friends for a field trip while wearing T shirt and then realized it is going to be a cold day” I managed it anyway as I belong to an area in Pakistan where winters are even more cold. I am not talking about our pleasant summers in the northern Pakistan which are getting more hotter!
Another 18 hours of long flight of my life to Melbourne which never made me worried about. By the way of care, thanks to TCRP who invited us couple of days ahead to the leadership congress to recover from the long travel and two nights wake up! Much of the relaxation regained as we, a group of presenters, walked with the Birrung River in slow pours of rain. And of course It was such a wonderful experience while going back to the history of Melbourne to know all about the indigenous people of Australia. An imagination from waterfall of old Birrung River to the 1889 Queen’s Bridge over the Yaara River made me realize the importance of nature and care for people.
The next morning we the presenters from Pakistan, India, Indonesia and Fiji walked towards the old warden’ lodge in the beautiful Trinity college of Melbourne. It was a memorable reunion with our fellow presenters where we had a lot to share and learn from each other experiences and inspiring stories. A diverse group of 65 presenters who belonged to different cultures and colors of life and sharing number of common values. The most amazing aspect that I could realize was the achievement of The Climate Reality Project who, since 2006 has successfully transformed lives of many dedicated individuals to talk a single language of care and love- for our environment, for our people and for our planet. Revising my personal journey from 2009 to 2011 with TCRP, I realized a change in myself- perhaps now I can say I got the courage and knowledge to lead and to advocate on climate crisis on behalf of my own people.
I think myself fortunate that I belong to the family of TCRP presenters. I had never thought of such a wonderful group of friends who belongs to different culture and religion but their individual expertise in the field of climate change makes them unique. During my three days learning from each and every fellow presenter, I felt myself even more powerful and informed. TCRP made it possible to connect individual strengths into common values of true friendship which will never end despite of distances. I learnt from the two “personal stories of change” from my fellow presenters from Pakistan and Australia that being bold or energetic in life do not always matter but being not afraid of doing things and a will of sharing power of knowledge with each other matters a lot.
The family of TCRP inspires me think differently and in many ways. I realize that many things in life are interconnected but not interdependent. I also realize in this journey that leadership skills and better communication doesn’t affect by differences in thoughts and culture while working on some big issue like climate change. Only love and care bring us all together on a single point where we can collectively think and can make it sure for change. I realize our people belonging to different thoughts and culture still love each other. Thinking about the issue of climate change and need for its solution, I realize it is so important to create such opportunities for youth and other people from different region to get together and share thoughts with each other. And this is what TCRP did successfully during the congress where presenters from the Asia-pacific region got to know many positive and inspiring stories ranging from the conservative societies of Balochistan province in Pakistan to the much developed part of the world Melbourne. I simply realized that distance may lead to differences in thoughts but coming together and talking on hard issue can make a way towards solutions.
Al Gore has been always an inspiration to me. He is kind of man I can proudly, and to be honest more easily, talk about even if I am among my conservative group of people and society in Pakistan. Having lots of complexities in the political landscape in our region where countries politics like between America and Pakistan currently seems in different directions, we however we get a person like Mr. Gore who being an American amazingly talk and care for our people. The main reason, as I realize, behind his care is to go beyond the limited circle of thinking and giving priority to the people suffering first. That’s why I felt so much proud when I got the opportunity to become part of the 24 Hours of Reality campaign representing Islamabad. I felt much excited when Mr. Gore in his phone catch-up during the congress called “Asif Iqbal from Pakistan”, however I feel much excited when I am able to get confidence of our people that still we can stand together with people of different culture and region on a common issue like climate change.
TCRP celebrations brought a lot to us. We could found something common as “green” in different getups- a green shirt, a green cap, a green sari or a green dopata (scarf). This was much to feel how beautiful our friends are and how much common values they hold for each other. I learnt we can never lose hope in many ways. One of the powerful ways I could learn was to find God in people hearts, in their smiles, in a beauty of nature and in the warm hug of a father. I learnt I can find myself and my wealth if I find God in many ways to come out of disappointments. I simply felt relaxed.
I had an amazing experience to listen to the thoughts of Paul Hawkens during the congress. I realized that apparently difficult things can be easy to know in life. Everything matters in life no matter if they are so tiny like a single cell of our body. We can find many ways to reconnect to people and nature to solve problems like of climate change. Sharing many values, perhaps it became easy for us to work together and identify key aspects of our common strategy to work together in 2012 and ahead to solve climate crisis.
I found many similarities in things which looks different to the world and which gave me this feeling that we can still walk together to solve our problems. I remember chatting with my fellow presenter and district manager Marita Manley from Fiji while traveling in bus to the community wind farm in central Victoria. I could never believe that both Marita and myself belonging to entirely different regions and cultures infact got similarities in our childhood problems as we grew up and entered into challenges of working life. Sitting together in the beautiful bus with our fellow presenters, I thought we are not only going together to the wind farm in central Victoria but also walking together on a similar way of life where we share common values and common issues to work upon. It is same like the fog which surrounds the wind farm in Victoria is also similar with the fog of my own area Nathiagali in Pakistan.
And finally I count the most precious words and support from the TCRP team especially from Angela, Don Henry, Aditya, Amanda, Mel, Adam and many of our fellow presenters who walked together with us in the path we all have adopted together. I think the first step that I took in 2009 from the cold winter of Melbourne was the perfect start. The Leadership congress is of course a milestone in this journey of change and inspirations. A special thanks to Ausaid for supporting us to participate in this great re-union and learning which, I personally think, significantly contributed in making many of us grass root level leaders to create change.