Born to a family with an established, business background, I’ve always lived a privileged life. Spending almost all my life in the inner city of Rawalpindi, I’d say I was blessed to live closely to the poor of my city, my country.
Living in close contact to them I got to know what many, many of us don’t know – the problems they face in their day to day lives just to meet their basic needs – things we all take for granted. Sadly.
What melted my heart were the images of those innocent faces, scarlet cheeks and wide eyes sparkling with big dreams. Dreams to become “Bara Admi” one day. But what they didn’t have was the money to acquire the education that would allow them to be that ‘Bara Admi’ one day.
But it was not until my A’Levels when it started hitting me that I’m living a wasted life wasted. I can’t recall who but somebody said,
“A life not spent in service, is a life wasted.”
Indeed! How true it is.
There was this restlessness breathing within me for many, many moons. I wanted to suffocate it. And do it soon.
I wanted to do something that would give those angels the wings to fly. And it was only a matter of time that I started opening charity schools providing free education to the beautiful souls residing in the slums around Islamabad.
A little time passed, and this work that started off as a charity became the mission of my life.
As if the demon was waiting for me all this time, I started facing such huge hardships on my path to this scared work.
From issues as petty as convincing the people in slums to send their kids to schools to issues as gigantic as raising funds and registering with an NGO, I had to face every single thing! Single handedly.
But little did they know, that I’m a warrior soul. I was never born to surrender, but to win their hearts.
One by one, I pinned down every single problem on my way. And by the way, I still have the same attitude for any challenge that confronts me.
Anyway, I had to put this mission to a halt for a short span of time while I was away to London to complete my further education. I’ve always firmly believed in altruism as the essence of my life. To overcome the existentialist crisis I faced in my life in London, I decided to return to Pakistan and transform our education system and transform it completely!
The hardships I faced here in Pakistan, of course, were way too intense. But I had my eyes on the prize. It’s the reward of being a person of value and service to my country that kept me going even in the worst of times!!
And then came the day when I gave birth to my startup Naseem with the vision to provide 21st century classroom to the underprivileged for free.
The number one thing that keeps me going on my entrepreneurial journey is focusing on the broader vision rather than being distracted by smaller issues.
I’m a very, very different person. A round peg in the square hole.
Early in my life I realized how different, how odd I was among all my friends that I had made in every nook of the world. From Pakistanis to Indians, from Iranian to Turkish and the British, everyone was so different from me. Or I’d say I was different than the rest.
But you know what I believe one must always strive for the top because it’s the bottom that’s over crowded.
And this thought was engraved on my mind, on my soul, by none other than my very own mother.
I thought to myself,
“What if every child in this world can have a mother like mine?”
And that’s how “Naseem” came into being – An educational mother-like figure for every kid out there!
The key lesson my entreprenial journey has taught me and that I want to share with you as well is this:
Keep your head down and work hard. Don’t get distracted by the fluff!
Story: Muhammad Ali Chaudhry, Founder and CEO Naseem.