I broke 9 myths about social work.


For 14 years of being a student, I was taught that “to live for others” is the true purpose of human life. I read about the Holy Prophet (PBUH) caring about humanity, watched Abdul Sattar Edhi on TV founding the world’s largest ambulance, and was told that Dr Ruth Pfau had dedicated her whole life to the leprosy patients in Pakistan. They all inspired me, and I aim to do something for humanity too. But I didn’t know how.

One month after enrolling in PMAS Arid Agriculture University, an email was received in class common email from Dr Pakeeza Arzoo about a leadership flagship at Foster Learning. The e-flyer seemed interesting, so I applied and got accepted for the program. At that time, I found what I was looking for.

Foster Learning provided me with the answer. It has 16 total sessions, with one outdoor project after every two sessions. My favorite of all was the outdoor project of cloth banking for the Akhuwat foundation. This was the true fieldwork. Before this, I was like, “If I get a chance, I will help needy people no matter what the hurdle comes my way.” Yeah, I know it’s a Bollywood dialogue. But I was fearful just imagining what would happen if everyone said no. What if someone insults me? What if I get too nervous that I look like a scam? People will laugh at me, and my friends will make fun of me. Just these thoughts gave me goosebumps. But after all, it was Me vs. Me. The words of Sannan, Founder & CEO of Foster Learning, clicked in my mind: “It’s just adrenaline that creates nervousness.” The saying of Shams of Tabriz from the “Forty Rules of Love” fits here: “Only the first step is difficult…”.

My first step was recording a short video for my Facebook and Instagram as a shout out for clothes donations. I broke the ice. I was surprised to receive people’s encouraging reactions and two of them contacted me for donations. The second step was going into the field, door-to-door. I was surprisingly shocked that most of the people welcomed me warmly. I collected 70 clothes items. My project was completed and I stepped out of my comfort zone. It was 2020.

In Feb 2022, I was walking with my best friend

at the university when I saw the Foster Learning banner. I went near and found out Hira, our Foster flagship batch 45 mentor and Foster Learning Co-Founder, was carrying out the outreach campaign for batch 53. I joined her in this campaign. Oh, I forgot to mention. Sannan was there too. We visited everyone, distributed flyers, and presented why students would join this flagship. I joined batch 53 and this time it was a hell of a new experience for me. And then came one of my favorite outdoor projects, cloth banking. But this time it was teamwork. Though cloth banking wasn’t new to me, teamwork was a new feature in its updated version. Sitwat, Fahad, and I.

I didn’t share my previous experience with them because I wanted to see their reactions before and after this project. Sitwat was like, “What if people called the police or slapped us?” Fahad was all quiet.

The first house, no answer. Second houses are discouraged. At the third house, an old woman came out. She had already donated her clothes, but he warmly welcomed us, invited us to lunch, and said good words. She was our lucky charm. After that, at every house we went to, the majority of them donated their clothes. A lady donated a bundle of clothes. When she saw my physique, she said, “Are you sure you can carry these?” I brought Fahad in front and said, “Of course, we can carry these.”

Cloth Banking — Sitwat, Fahad, and I

Sitwat and Fahad’s reactions were worth watching, and I can’t describe them in words. Within 4 hours, we collected enough clothes that we could not carry more. I took my team to my home because it was nearby, got fresh, took some rest and had lunch. During lunch, we discussed our next team project, i.e., Crowd Sales. It was 5 p.m. Time to go home. I dropped by the bus stop. Finally, our social project was completed successfully.

This experience proved myths about social work wrong, and I learnt these seven lessons.

  • It’s just adrenaline that makes us nervous. Just breathe in, belly out. Breath out, belly in. Breath in, belly out. Breath out, belly in.
  • The first step will always be difficult. Just take this step, and the rest will flow through you naturally.
  • Listening to “No” but being determined makes you resilient.
  • Not everyone discourages you or makes fun of you. Some strangers will greet you with a warm smile and appreciate you.
  • You can run faster alone, but you will run longer in a team. Teamwork makes your dreams work.
  • Social work does not define by work location or the organization you work for. It simply is what you do and how you do it.
  • It’s not the end and you have not mastered everything. Be a life-long learner.

Thanks for reading. You are my hero and I mean it. Follow me to read more of inspiration stories from my life and subscribe to my email newsletter so you will be notified first whenever I publish my new blog. I am on LinkedIn too. See you in next blog.



Farhan Ahmed | Personal Stories & Life Lessons

Join me on a journey of personal growth through storytelling. Raw and honest, I share my experiences and lessons to inspire and connect with readers.