Another Picture of Humanity

This is a second public service announcement. I earlier was enamored with the photographer of Humans of New York when he traveled the Middle East last year. His pictures of true humanity from those regions were truly inspiring.

He has been back in New York for a long time, and though the American stories are “american” and just as real to those people, they do not hold my heart as those from other places.

Life is hard, and beautiful, for us all. It is a good feeling to know that we indeed do share this planet, and can live and learn from each other. Puts things into perspective.

I can be certain that all we think we know of the world, of people, of religion, of ourselves, of life, of death… is just a fraction of this reality. I believe we are all part of this beautiful reality, and I am grateful to be sharing it with those on this earth now, and look forward to continuing to share it in the vast beyond with those whom have gone before, and will meet up after.

He is now in Pakistan, enjoy.

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“There were no paved roads here when I was a boy. We had to walk for 3 days to get to places that only take 2 hours now. There was never any money for school. We had no wealth or property. Beginning at six years old, I cleaned dishes at a restaurant until 9 pm. Then I would go to sleep and start again. All my money went to my parents. I’d hear stories about cities and airplanes, but they seemed like fairy tales. I’d dream of visiting these places, but before I could get too far, I’d be hungry again. So I grew up thinking that the entire world was like our valley. I thought all children lived like me. Then one day when I turned 16, I had the opportunity to visit to the city of Gilgit. I couldn’t believe it. I saw a boy eating at a restaurant with his father. He was my age. He was wearing a school uniform. I broke down in tears.”

(Hunza Valley, Pakistan)

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“He’s a very respectful husband. He’s different from a lot of the men in this region. He never stops me from voicing my opinions. And if he ever notices me walking down the road, there’s always hot tea and apricot cake waiting when I arrive.”

(Passu, Pakistan)

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“I was born paralyzed from the waist down. But this community is so tolerant that I never had to worry about fitting in. I only had to focus on improving myself. Everyone treated me as normal. I got everything my older brother got, including punishment. I never once escaped a spanking. I dove off cliffs. I swam. I played cricket and badminton. I climbed trees. The only thing my family told me not to do was play music, because they thought it would distract me from my studies. But eventually I got so good, they couldn’t even tell me to stop that.”

(Hunza Valley, Pakistan)

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“We lost their mother to a heart attack recently. And their father is overseas trying to find a job. So I’m currently Grandpa, Grandma, Mom, and Dad. Luckily I have five children and eighteen grandchildren, so I’m very experienced. There’s actually one more child at home—he’s eight years old. And none of them can fall asleep unless they are lying next to me. So I have to put the oldest one to sleep first. Then I get up quietly, and lie down between the other two. The only problem is sometimes they fall asleep on top of me.”

(Passu, Pakistan)

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“My mom is afraid of me studying abroad because she thinks I’ll stand out too much. I asked her: ‘How is that any different than here?’”

(Karachi, Pakistan)

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“I’ve been complaining about a good friend to my colleagues recently, and I need to stop. This is someone who’s been like a brother to me. When my pockets were empty, he stepped in to help me out. Recently he’s done some small things that bother me. And I’ve somehow allowed those small things to blind me from all the big things that he’s done in the past.”

(Karachi, Pakistan)

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“My father was killed in a suicide bombing in 2003, while he was attending Friday prayers. We were at home. We’d prepared a lunch for him and were expecting him any minute. Suddenly our relatives began calling to ask if he’d been at the mosque. He left us a small, sweet message before he died. He said: ‘I love you all and follow what I taught you.’ The ambulance driver told us that he refused to be taken away, and that he insisted they treat other people first. We believe he was martyred. And we believe that those who are martyred never die. We think he’s still with our family and shares our concerns. Whenever I am tense or nervous, or achieve something big, I smell him. He had his own smell. I don’t know how to describe it.”

(Karachi, Pakistan)

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“My husband passed away eight years ago. His death ruined my life. I couldn’t pay rent anymore. The people in the neighborhood tried to help me at first. Every day they would arrange two or three hundred rupees to pay my bills and send groceries to my house. But eventually their charity ran out and they told me it was time to seek help from God. Now I sleep on the floor of a relative’s house, and during the day I sit here and beg to pass the time. This is the fate God has chosen for me. When I talk about these things, my heart begins to sink. If I stay quiet, I feel OK.”

(Karachi, Pakistan)

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“I was never educated because I began working when I was a child. I was always envious of the boys who got to wear uniforms and go to school. This is her first month of school. She comes home and tells me exactly what happened, everyday. I love it. If I’m not home for a few days, she’ll save up all her stories, then tell them to me all at once.”

(Lahore, Pakistan)

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“My daughter had a hole in her heart. I prayed constantly because I never knew the moment that God would be listening. We were given medication from the doctor, and then God healed her.”

(Lahore, Pakistan)

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Today in microfashion…

(Lahore, Pakistan)

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