By Hazeen Latif
Sitting in a “hujra” (a room in the house for meetings and discussions) my host’s uncle asked me, “What is your interest in coming to our village (Swabi, KPK)?” This question is rarely asked of anyone when it comes to hospitality in KPK region, a province to north of Pakistan.
Before any kind of reply from me, my friend’s (the host) uncle changed the tone and said, “Oh, you must not misunderstand me. It rarely happens that people come to visit us in this hot weather, with no facility of any kind in the village, and having to sit on the ground with us. Please do not take this the wrong way as we are honored by your presence.” This dialogue gave me an opportunity to share how I felt in their midst. It was through my friend that I had been invited to visit the community and asked to help the community become healthy and prosperous. I told them that my visit to the community was the fulfilment of a promise to my friend; no more than that.
In the hujra (house), a council member from government was present who was elected to the union council for that region comprising of eight villages of which one was the village where I was sitting. All the men agreed to develop a CBO (community based organisation) for the villages. They all happily decided on the name which is Khush-hali meaning prosperity. Amazingly, they all agreed on the name. With my guidance, they identified the issues of the community for the first time and even proposed some solutions. Major issues which came up in our discussion were education for all, but mostly for girls, and health issues as there is only one BHU (basic health unit) operational in the region for over ten thousand adults in the union council. Other issues discussed were youth being neglected, hygiene and poor infrastructure. The men asked me to develop a program and to proceed in developing Khush-hali by establishing a proper legal frame work. The meeting ended with a delicious lunch we all shared by eating from the one dish.