Islamabad: Microsoft founder Bill Gates in a recent blog shared stories of seven heroes of COVID-19 from around the world who inspired him. Pakistani youngster Sikander Bizenjo is one of them.
Philanthropist and tech titan Bill Gates described Sikander’s heroic effort as “the best of humanity at a time of crisis”. These heroes represent the best of who we can be, he wrote. “Their efforts to solve the world’s challenges demonstrate our values as a society and they serve as powerful examples of how to make a positive difference in the world.”
Talking to Gulf News, Sikander said the team was “overwhelmed and thrilled by the appreciation from Bill Gates” for being recognised among seven heroes of the pandemic. “This is a proud moment for Pakistan and especially for Balochistan as we don’t hear much positive or inspiring news from there. The best part, he said, is “knowing that your efforts have touched so many lives.”
The best of humanity at a time of crisis
When the coronavirus spread into Pakistan, those living in poor neighbourhoods were hit harder. Sikander, working as a manager at a business school in Karachi, instantly decided to help the poor and vulnerable in his home province of Balochistan - Pakistan’s largest but most impoverished and sparsely populated region. He reached out to youngsters back home and founded a group called the Balochistan Youth Against Corona with Bizenjo and Banari Mengal as co-founders and Dr Yasir Baloch and Khalid Ismail as core team members to raise funds to support the people affected by the pandemic.
Reached over 13,000 people
Since April, the group has “reached over 13,000 people in 42 towns of the province besides numerous small settlements”, Sikander said. They distributed monthly food rations as well as personal protective equipment, face shields, masks and hand sanitisers among frontline health workers. Most of the supplies were bought from local vendors to support the native businesses. It shows “how the entire community can thrive from each other’s support.”
Sharing the news of appreciation by Bill Gates, Sikander wrote on Twitter: “This is what happens when we unite and work together! More power to the youth of our country, together we are stronger.”
With the sharp decline in virus cases in Pakistan, the youngsters have decided to continue the mission to serve humanity with focus on education. Transformed as Balochistan Youth Action Committee (BYAC) the group aims to spur love of reading and improve literacy level in the province by building reading rooms. They have donated over 500 books in different parts of Balochistan. The initiative made headlines when Brazilian novelist, best known for his book ‘The Alchemist’, Paulo Coelho, gave a shout-out to the youngsters with this tweet: “Send books to Balochistan, they’re building reading rooms”.