Delivering school supplies in Kashmir, Pakistan.

By Muhammad Talha Mushtaq, a member of the Rotaract Club of Jhang Saddar and the Rotary Club of Jhang Metropolitan

When I joined Interact back in 2009, I had no idea the path it would set me on or that it would change my life forever.

I enjoyed many successful service projects with my fellow members of Interact, as we assisted victims of the great flood of 2010. One-fifth of Pakistan’s total land area and 20 million people were directly affected by floods. We were able to collect a sizable sum of money and donations in kind during three days of scorching July heat. It was then that I understand the meaning of this quote by Oprah Winfrey:

“The happiness you feel is in direct proportion to the love you give.” 

As soon as I turned 18, I joined the Rotaract Club of Jhang Saddar along with some of my friends from Interact, and continued to enjoy service projects that included installing libraries in five different schools, distributing school bags and stationary, helping deliver food rations to the needy, and holding a family festival attended by almost 10,000 people.

When I learned that the Rotary Club of Jhang Metropolitan was conducting a free medical camp for the poor in my hometown of Jhang, I wanted to join that club, too. This is something Rotary now allows, dual membership in Rotary and Rotaract, and I jumped at the opportunity. Rotary clubs provide young leaders like us with expanded opportunities for projects on a much larger scale.

Students in the Neelum Valley of Pakistan show off their new backpacks.

Each week in my Rotary club, I get to listen to informative speakers on a variety of topics, learn what is going on in my community, and carry all that back to my Rotaract club. I can share ideas with them and inspire them to get more involved. Likewise, I have become the face of Rotaract to my Rotary club, sharing with them the issues that our important to my fellow Rotaractors.

Dual membership allows me to be a bridge. There are so many opportunities to welcome present members of Rotaract or program alumni into Rotary. I decided to serve as my club’s membership chair next year because I am convinced there are many who are willing to join Rotary, but just need proper guidance. For example, recently, my Rotary club invited six Rotaractors who had also been in Interact with me to enjoy the benefits of dual membership.

It is a love for humanity and our fellow countrymen that compel us to play our part. Both Rotary and Rotaract give us the platform. I will have the added joy of serving as my district’s Rotaract Representative in 2018-19, the same year that my father, Muhammad Mushtaq, will be serving as the district’s governor.

Rotary and its programs for young leaders have enabled me to develop my personal and professional skills. I find it much easier to meet new people, make friends, and speak in front of groups. I have learned to be more patient and listen before I speak. I have learned the value of helping others and giving. And I have a new outlook on life. My love for this organization knows no limit.