An interview with Nawal

With a passion for the words and with a quest to mend the most blatantly ignored parts of the society Nawal plays the vital role of a student ambassador for the Letters of Love project.

Q1. How would you best describe yourself?

A naïve little girl surviving the world on good chai, music and literature.

Q2. When did you first become aware of the Syrian situation?

September 2013, if I remember correctly. It was for my first ever Model UN conference and the crisis seemed
to be quantified in statitisics and nothing more than a mechanical, factual story that would help me win.
Until only when, amost 6 months later, I truly started understanding the gravity of the situation after meeting
a dear friend Omer, who worked at the UNHCR office Islamabad and talked to me about the Afghani crisis.

Q3. Could you tell us about your first rendezvous with Letters of Love?

Not sure if I need to say more, but its been one of the most beautiful editions to my life.

Q4. Under the aegis of Letters of Love, what is the kind of work you have undertaken until now?

We carried out a drive in Liberty Chowk Lahore and Lahore Universty of Management Sciences where we not
only made people aware of the stark crisis, but also felt deeply moved by the stories they had to share.


Q5. What specifically prompted you to take action?

To be fair, in the beginning, I signed up for it only because I trust Pooja’s word too much. But on our drive to
the Liberty Chowk, where I thought I was going to make people aware of the crisis; I found people who were
even more closely linked to the issue themselves. These people were those I see in shoe shops and those who
sell me cloth every eid and make roadside pakoras for me every Ramadan. These were Aghanis who had to
come to Pakistan to seek refuge from stark war times. Listening to their stories and hearing the unbound
appreciation they had for what we do, it made me feel so much more strongly about LOL.



Q6. Why do you think it’s important for persons of all ages living in peaceful and privileged
societies to be aware of the crisis in Syria and other conflict areas?

Here I’d go back to a friend I made at peace camp once- William Steinberg. Will, in our dialogue sessions was
always too inquisitive about life back in Pakistan, India and particularly Afghanistan. For me sometimes
talking about this got montonous, for I had grown up in this, but Will always stopped to talk about how these
tiny stories help him empathise and be grateful. But more than what he admitted, I feel these stories made
him so much more selfless and kind and cognizant about those in crisis around him. So I feel, if nothing,
knowing about these tales give us space to empower ourselves and those around us by empathising with them
and wishing with all our heart for their conditions to change.


Q7. What do you think are the moral obligations of a civil society when societies in other parts
of the world are facing a crisis of this magnitude?

To listen. Always. They say, and I misquote, ‘no one wants to listen to you until you’re either famous or dying.’
But I feel that the strongest and most resilient of us are neither famous nor dying.


Q8. If you had to give a message to the leaders of the world, what would it be?

You should’ve attended the Seeds of Peace summer camp. It might have taught you an alien concept of the
possibility of peace and the world beneath you, would’ve been proud.


Q9. What would be your message of love to fellow citizens of the world?

A lot of people told me that sending a refugee a letter can’t make a difference and in effect LOL can’t make a
difference. Maybe it can't. But maybe, just maybe, it might be a morbid idea to deter that one possible smile
thinking it’s not impactful in the long run. As a young girl, with a love for words, history has taught me,
that while all else failed, letters remained and made impacts on millions of life. Whether it be from
Martin Luther or from Romeo to Juliet, or for that matter even from you to a refugee, it matters, my friend.
It does.