US-based Sairah Alvi doing her best to empower Pakistani women

Pakistani community in US up against Donald Trump

Exclusive interview by Zubair Qureshi

Islamabad—National Book Foundation’s Book Ambassador, poet, intellectual and philanthropist Dr Sairah Alvi who has been living in the US for three decades, has termed American presidential candidate Donald Trump’s ideas dangerous for America’s unity and integrity. Dr Alvi who is currently in Islamabad and has a rich literary, cultural and societal background as she is the daughter of the noted literary couple Hameed Alvi and Prof Qaiserah Alvi says the Muslims in general and the Pakistani community in particular feel threatened by the skewed ideas of Mr Trump who she said believed in closing down borders on Muslims and building walls among the US citizens on the basis of their religion, caste and colour. Majority of the US people, however, think otherwise, she said and a momentum is picking up against Mr Trump and his likes as the date of election (later this year) is drawing near. However, she said there were some voices still supporting Mr Trump in spite of knowing that Asians and the Muslims have contributed a lot to the American society. Expat Pakistanis and Asians have contributed to almost all the segments of the US society like education, medicine, law, science, business, anthropology, media, politics and even military, she said.
Sairah Alvi during an exclusive interview with Pakistan Observer referred to the recent controversial statement of Mr Trump against the family of a Pakistan-origin Muslim American soldier, Humayun Khan who was killed in Iraq in 2004 suicide blast. She said one could only imagine how terribly he (Donald Trump) hurt the parents of Humayun Khan who sacrificed his life on America. “I am leaving for the US shortly and we, the Pakistani community, shall do our part and raise awareness among the community and ask the voters to shun the one who is preaching hatred and is trying to pitch followers of one faith against the other.”
Though a PhD in Hematology Oncology, yet Dr Sairah Alvi’s first love is Urdu literature and she takes pride in that. “I was born and brought up in a family that endeared and befriended literature and literary persons. Intazar Hussain, Sufi Tabassum, Muzaffar Ali Syed, Ahmed Faraz, Akram Zaki, Kishwar Naheed, Safdar Mir and many others are household names for us. I grew up listening to them and taking inspiration from my uncles and aunts,” says Dr Alvi.
This is why she has established a small group or forum of the likeminded, Urdu Institute Chicago. Under this forum meetings are held regularly and in those meetings, budding poets and writers bring their works and read them out. “In a way it is very encouraging as we come to know about the works of the Pakistani and the Indian writers and poets and keep our love for ‘Urdu hay jis ka naam’ alive, she said. Her children Emaan, Zarvaan and Shayaan are also following their grandpa and grandma’s footsteps as they regularly participate in the literary gatherings and enjoy poetry and prose sessions a lot. This in a way runs in our blood, she said.
Sairah Alvi has not only established Urdu institute in Chicago she is also co-founder of Sonia Shah Organization, a non-profit organization set up in Kangra village of Charsadda District (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) to educate and empower womenfolk. A primary school for girls where more than 50 girls are getting education has been set up in Kangra. Besides, a vocational training institute is also serving woman of the local area and helping them get recognition. Both the institutions are working on self-help basis and donations are collected from our American and Pakistani friends, she said. On September 17, 2016 we are going to organize a fundraiser in Chicago to collect donations for the two women institutions, she said.

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