I met Amjad Shabbir in the summer of 2011 via a young man in Islamabad who was trying to connect me to ‘real ‘ people – who would truly help fund the Abruzzi school garden project.
I made the cold call and introduced myself, then emailed Amjad the Abruzzi school story and all else i do…he arranged to meet me almost immediately after. A few days later my first encounter with him and his assistant Aniqa Yaqoob impressed me as ‘real’ people – sincere, committed, and driven. Somehow to me his bald head was a tell tale sign of left overs from cancer…his demeanor calm and sure…with an underlying sense of humor peppered with a strong faith.
We talked alot about how to promote the idea of a school garden and spread its news. He suggested screening the film ‘A Garden in Shigar’, at their office and calling people he thought would participate. In his signature style, before i knew it i was screening A garden in Shigar at the Chevron offices in Islamabad, except besides himself and Aniqa only two others showed up. He was apologetic, and assured me of a better turn out a second time
around. I was not surprised, id been spawned enough times by then to know that you need lots more than a great idea to speak to the circles of power. I wasn’t deterred – nor was he. He made sure that Chevron granted the school $10,000 to build the schools physics, chemistry and biology laboratory. After that was done Amjad promised to get me the funds to make the garden happen – the biggest most important laboratory a school can have after all.
It is less than a year since Amjad Shabbir so suddenly passed away last July – the ‘Shabbir Science Lab’ named after him, which he missed inaugurating by a few months, is complete and in use since Oct 2012.
The school garden is finally making a dent on the imaginations of young high school students to heads of international corporations. Chevron has granted a small sum for the garden to get infrastructure built, and i hope that once we are on a roll, starting March 01 2013 many others will join the ranks of those who help empower creative ways to address the dismal state of education in our country.
It isnt his barsi, or the inauguration of something special, or his birthday, or any extraordinary occasion on which to remember Amjad Shabbir today in the middle of January 2013, but extra ordinary people pop up in the minds of ordinary folks on not so special days simply to be that spark of excitement that propels each one of us towards our creative best.