16 May 2012 was a long day. A day full of aspirations – and apprehensions.
It started with a journey of 195 miles from Leeds to London. It ended with the same in reverse.
Get on board
In those 400-odd miles, I saw an abundance of food everywhere. The food trolley in the East Coast train loaded with packs of crisps and chocolates. Eateries outside King’s Cross station. At Trafalgar Square, people sitting on the steps, sipping coffee.
On the same day, in other parts of the world, 300 children were dying of malnutrition every hour.
And for me, it was the day I became a campaigner. And I realised how simple things save lives.
Trafalgar Square take-over
When I reached Trafalgar Square, I was surrounded by fellow campaigners and volunteers wearing Save the Children T-shirts and pushing wheelbarrows carrying nutritious foods from around the world.
It was the day David Cameron was leaving for the G8 summit at Camp David. Save the Children campaigners, in association with ONE and Concern Worldwide UK, took this opportunity to highlight the global hunger crisis.
It was my first experience of campaigning in the UK. In the past I have been part of campaigns in Pakistan. This time around the purpose and the locale were completely different.
Making an impact
Coming from a developing country and being a development studies student, I wanted to understand how issues in developing countries are looked on and dealt with in developed countries.
I learned two things that were important for me.
First, there’s the role of volunteers in campaigns. People take time out of their daily lives, using their own resources and working enthusiastically for a cause.
Second, I realised how approachable MPs are in the UK. After the speeches in Trafalgar Square, we went to Downing Street to submit the petition. Then, on his return from the G8 summit, UK Prime Minister David Cameron announced in the House of Commons that he would host a major event on hunger during the Olympics.
I never knew the impact of the campaign could be so swift and so profound.
Change the world
The other highlight of the day was visiting the Save the Children head office. Before I had meetings with the campaigns team there, my mind was boggling with gigantic ideas to change the world.
But the words of the experienced campaigners made me realise, it’s not always about the huge leaps.
Sometimes what matters is connecting all the small steps together.
Break the chains
When I walked out of Leeds station, it was almost eight in the evening. Everything was silent and peaceful.
Those 400 miles showed me how campaigners are a bridge between the snacks on the trollies, the giggles inside the eateries, the hot cups of coffee and the 300 children dying every hour of a single day.
The determined efforts of campaigners led to 20,000 people supporting the campaign to ‘Break the Chains of Hunger’.
On the surface it might just seem to be 20,000 signed pieces of paper but in reality, it’s 20,000 people consciously making an effort to help millions of children live.
16 May 2012 welcomed me to the world of campaigning. I feel blessed.