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What is the En­vi­ron­ment Pro­tec­tion Foun­da­tion and what ac­tiv­i­ties is it in­volved in?

The En­vi­ron­ment Pro­tec­tion Fund is a non-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion reg­is­tered in Cal­i­for­nia, U.S.A and in La­hore as the En­vi­ron­ment Pro­tec­tion Foun­da­tion. We are af­fil­i­ated with a num­ber of other NGOs in­clud­ing Azme Alis­han, Packages Ltd., La­hore Waste Man­age­ment Com­pany (LWMC), United States In­sti­tute of Peace (USIP) and the United States Agency for In­ter­na­tional Devel­op­ment (USAID)/Cre­ative As­so­ciates.

TEPF works with stu­dent vol­un­teers and pro­vides venues, tools and cer­ti­fi­ca­tion for com­mu­nity ser­vice work done by stu­dents. We fo­cus on en­gag-en­gag- ing the youth to pro­mote tol­er­anceer­ance through com­mu­nity ser­vice ini­tia­tives.s. Some of the projects that we have ac­com­plishedm­plished in­clude clean­ing and com­post­ing, plant­ing of trees and so­lar in­stal­la­tions. Throughugh th­ese proj-projects, chil­dren of dif­fer­ent faith­saiths come to-to­gether and learn tol­er­ance,, ac­count­abil­ity and re­spon­si­bil­ity. We even or­ga­nize semi-seminars re­lated to is­sues preva­len­tent in our soci-so­ci­ety to­day, in­clud­ing so­cial re­spon­si­bil­i­tyspon­si­bil­ity and en­vi­ron­ment, tol­er­ance, or­gan­ic­nic gar­den­ing, tree plant­ing and com­post­ingng and even pop­u­la­tion man­age­ment.

How did you come up with the idea of start­ing such an in­sti­tu­tion?

Af­ter hav­ing lived most of my life in the U.S., I de­cided to even­tu­ally move back to Pak­istan so that I could be close to my roots. Once I came here, how­ever, I was deeply dis­turbed by the com­plete de­te­ri­o­ra­tion of our phys­i­cal en­vi­ron­ment. It was very painful. The ob­jec­tive be­hind start­ing TEPF was not to start ‘clean­ing up’ phys­i­cally; in­stead, it was to ed­u­cate fu­ture gen­er­a­tions on the im­por­tance of keep­ing the coun­try clean and green. That is when I be­gan work­ing with schools, school chil­dren, ad­min­is­tra­tive arms of the gov­ern­ment, in­di­vid­u­als and com­mu­ni­ties and even com­pa­nies to help ed­u­cate chil­dren on the need to re­verse

this dread­ful ttrend. WhatW chal­lenges did you comecom across?

A ma­jor dif­fer­ence be­tween openingop an NGO in the United Stat­esS and one here is that, in theth U.S, the process, how­ever te­dious it may be, is ac­tu­al­lyly ppretty straight­for­ward. If you are will­ing to fol­low the rules and­dan have all nec­es­sary doc­u­mentsoc­u­mentsdo on hand, you­uyo can have you­ruryo NGO opened in no time. Over here, I re­al­ized that un­less I knew the right peo- ple within the com­mu­nity and gov­ern­ment, it would be very dif­fi­cult for me. There is no clar­ity; prac­ti­cally ev­ery­thing is run­ning on an ad hoc ba­sis. I re­mem­ber I used to sit in front of the so­ci­ety’s of­fice for hours and even days on end, wait­ing on an up­date from the of­fi­cials re­gard­ing the sta­tus of my NGO so that I could move on to the next stage. Thank­fully, due to per­sis­tence and per­se­ver­ance, I was able to get the job done.

An­other hur­dle I faced came in the form of fund­ing. Most of it came pri­mar­ily from my own re­sources along with a lit­tle help from friends and fam­ily. In fact, I had to sus­tain it for quite a num­ber of years on just that. Dur­ing that time, I went from door to door ask­ing for dona­tions. At ev­ery board meet­ing, I pleaded with board mem­bers for an ad­di­tional in­jec­tion of funds, just so that I could keep it run­ning. Even­tu­ally, our first break­through came in the form of the United States In­sti­tute of Peace (USIP) which greatly helped our cause.

In your view, are peo­ple gen­er­ally will­ing to help or is there a lack of in­ter­est in the area?

I think it is a bit of both. From my ex­pe­ri­ence,ence, I can say that peo­ple, in gen­eral, are more re­ac­tive than proac­tive. When­ever dis­as­ter strikes in the form

of a flood, an earth­quake or a

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