Shahzad is a One Young World Ambassador from Indian Administered Kashmir.
This blog originally appeared on The Huffington Post.
Sometimes we get what we need and not what we want. Sometimes we plan so many things in life and every single day and night we live with those dreams; making our heart believe that some day those dreams will come true.
I have been working as a Human Rights Defender for the last 10 years in occupied Kashmir. I started my work by documenting all human rights cases happening in Kashmir since 1931 and providing free education to victims of the conflict. The more I got inside the issues the more helpless I felt we were and that our judicial system was not able to issue justice.
Kashmir being the oldest dispute of Asia could never get the deserved attention of the international community. More than one lakh (100,000) dead, 6000 raped around 10,000 disappeared and many more; Kashmir was wailing over its painful story for ages but there was no one to listen to it. With every passing year I tried my level best to highlight the plight of the Kashmiri people before the ignorant and deaf ears across the Globe. While I was searching for hope; I came across a Summit by “One Young World” which was going to take place in Dublin on 15 October 2014.
Mr. Ashfaq who happened to be a common friend shared whatever information he had on the Summit and guided me to process for the registration to participate. Finally it was on 28 August 2014 I received an email from One Young World informing me to complete the candidate registration process and if I am chosen to represent the Indian Kashmir perspective I will be further directed to complete the procedure to attend the Summit. I started the process for registration without any delay since I had been searching for something like this for years. The value this Summit was to have in my life was beyond imagination, especially for the one who has been living under the shadow of fear and gun; who has a lot to say but never got a platform to share his painful story of Kashmir.
I burned my day and night to complete the registration process. Once it was done I started to work on writing a paper about Peace and Conflict in Kashmir, including collecting various reports on human rights issues in Kashmir by many international Human Rights watchdogs. On 5 September, I received a call from One Young World pleased to inform me that I had finally been selected to attend the One Young World Summit and I should now apply for a visa and was encouraged to apply as a Delegate Speaker at the Summit.
I went to sleep that night with positive hope that finally Kashmir will get an international attention, which it had been craving for ages.
The next morning was something that I never thought possible even in deep corners of my mind. Kashmir was hit by a massive flood tsunami and I woke up as a flood victim. The floodwater was taking something away from me; it was not just my house disappearing in torrent floodwaters but it was hope too.
The whole day I tried to rescue my parents and it took me two days to evacuate them to a safer place. Kashmir had witnessed the worst flood in its history. Men and women were crying for mercy; while the young were showing the courage to rescue as many as they could. This scene was enough to bury hopes in my heart.
With no network and no Internet there was no hope and desire left me. I had almost surrendered myself to Allah’s will. For 16 days I was stuck in floods and for many I was now in the list of missing people. After 16 days I managed to reach a safer place and found myself alive and breathing from 16 days of trauma.
On 22 September, a fellow Kashmiri told me that about 2-3 km from the place I was, network connections were working. Without giving a single thought I moved towards that place and finally I was there and could find a strong network connection to make a call to my friends and family and tell them “I’m alive”. The moment I took out my mobile to make a call, someone more desperate to know if I am living called. It seemed as if this person had been trying all day and night to call me. It was from One Young World. The first thing she asked was “Are you Ok” and I thought that they had almost forgotten me; but I was wrong. I explained what happened in Kashmir and the unfortunate reason I could not apply for visa on time and there was nothing left in Kashmir where I could even send my passport through courier to the embassy of Ireland in New Delhi. It was a pause from her side and she promised me that she will call again and to remain in the network area till she calls me back.
Finally she called me back and gave an assurance from the team of One Young World that they will help me get my visa and arrange my travel to reach the embassy in Delhi.
With the help of the One Young World team I got my visa and they made sure I reach the airport on time. I was satisfied now, knowing that I could not be a Delegate Speaker and knowing that the spirit of being a part of the Summit was not that which I had on the night 5 September. This satisfaction was now more to meet those noble people from One Young World who helped me reach the Summit and who made I was not missed.
Thank you One Young World.