“My grandfather was instrumental in setting up National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases so when I was approached for a position on the board, I thought it’s something he started and that I should carry it forward. I felt it to be my purpose that I have to give back to the society that God has so kindly given me.” Today Zareena Asghar Khan is a founder trustee of this foundation which treats patients free of cost and helps them to get back on their feet. She is also a demonstrator in the line of floral art history and very involved in horticulture.
While her children were young, Zareena entered the field of floral art and learnt quite a bit. During her travels with her family, she would go see flower shows. “I had to juggle In-laws, family, 3 children and then grandchildren. All that was a struggle”. As far as National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases is concerned, initially it was slightly difficult to raise funds and it took time to develop a good reputation. However, soon people were convinced that they are contributing to a good cause. Now that Zareena has established the trust, people are always ready to help.
Zareena’s mother always helped her surmount the challenges. She passed away a couple of years ago and according to Zareena, she was a very elegant and artistic lady. “That breed now isn’t there anymore. I would thank her for all she did, for her encouragement and support. She believed in me wholeheartedly. “While Zareena managed to pull through her own health issues and a surgery, with the support of her husband, she feels helpless when it comes to her little grandchild, who, because of the doctor’s negligence, became a special child. “That delightful little child went into coma and suffered brain damage,” explains Zareena with tears in her eyes. “Even now I get a little emotional when I think about it.” Having a tight knit family can help overcome so many obstacles and Zareena has been blessed with just that.
According to Zareena, emotional independence allows a woman to be internally strong but by no means should it make you detached. You should seek family support and be there for all those who may need you in turn. She advices younger girls to not be reluctant in asking for help and to be confident about their decisions. But at the same time, they must not be afraid to admit their mistakes, if any. It’s important to be financially independent as well and she believes “a lot of things you want to do, your husband may not feel he can afford it or be too enthusiastic about it. Don’t let that set you back, live your dreams and fulfill them with your own hard work.”
NICVD is Zareena’s Miracle. Recently, an elderly couple came to the foundation. The husband had been a vegetable vendor all his life. He managed to set up his children and only managed to save about Rs.30000 for himself, whereas he needed a bypass which costs Rs.120,000. Zareena and her colleagues agreed to help him. The moment they told the couple they would pay most of the money, their faces lit up. “The joy on their face and the way he stood up and went to thank Almighty that we’ve done this for him, it was a very emotional thing to behold.” There have been a lot of such instances for Zareena and she relates another incident by saying “we were desperately in need of funds some time back and owed the hospital a tremendous amount. Friends and God came through when I asked for help. That, too, was a very big Miracle Moment.” At institutions such as NICVD the need for funds is constant. To support such a foundation so selflessly is a great act of charity and as long as humanitarian people like Zareena Asghar Khan continue to exist in Pakistan, who love changing lives, our country will always remain to be a warm, beautiful place.