You are considered one of the pioneers when it comes to social causes. You are the force behind the Special Olympics of Pakistan. You are also the vice president of the Network of Organisations Working for People with Disabilities, Pakistan. When did you start out and how has your journey been? In 1984, a friend of mine asked me to join her at a fundraising event. That was my first experience with raising funds for the needy. In 1985, I was part of taking the first step towards the making of the Layton Rahmatulla Benevolent Trust, which started holding fundraising events every year. In 1990, there was a sports event and I acted as a volunteer to raise funds for the promotion of it. The event was not a regular sports one, but one that involved the mentally and the physically challenged to play sports. What I saw there was very touching. Hence, the SOP was formed and I was asked to be on the board for it. Joseph Melrose was the US Consul General then and he headed the SOP. A delegation had come a year earlier from the US, to uphold the cause and raise funds for it. “Sport is a powerful tool to help the disabled” How has the cause of helping disabled people touched you and motivated you? When I went to one of these fundraising events for the SOP as a volunteer, the experience was amazing. The disabled children looked so happy and were trying to communicate and seemed so full of energy. The mission was to transform lives with what little we could do. These young people were heading to the ground, meeting other children like themselves and that ultimately motivated me to take a firm stand for these bright young people. Their performance on the ground had helped them to make a marked difference in their academics and were hence happy individuals at home as well. Tell us about an interesting experience, one that has stayed with you and moved you. There was a child who couldn’t walk or even stand on her own. I had found her in one of the schools educating disabled children. She was taken to the ground at one of these events to see the other children playing and making an effort with running and walking. On seeing so much energy, the child let go of her attendant and started running around with these other children. It was a miracle. I could see her mother crying and it was so moving for all of us. What is your vision for Pakistan? If the Pakistani government comes forward and gets involved in supporting the cause of encouraging the disabled athletes to venture forth and make things happen for themselves, there would be no stopping our country. We would see positive changes in bringing about a positive image of our country. That is the kind of progressive Pakistan I see. “I love Pakistan, which has so much potential. Pakistanis just need a little push in the right direction” What has been the inspiration behind all that you have achieved today? My husband has been very supportive and so has my family. Their confidence in me has made me achieve whatever I have today. There has been a lot of dedication, team work and surprise volunteering from the SOP team and that has encouraged me to give my all to this cause. What is it that you feel the most passionate about in your life? The SOP is something I feel the most passionate about without a doubt. How do you balance your work life and your personal life? It’s a tough call but I managed. I am a very social person and I love get togethers. I think these GTs have helped me in seeking fundraisers for SOP. There has been massive support from my husband, he has been the force behind me. In fact, he was the one who persuaded me to do what I am doing today. Who do you look up to the most in the field of social service and philanthropy? I think the Aman Foundation is doing a fabulous job. Mushtaq Chhapra and Marriana Karim are doing an amazing job as well. What does it mean to be Pakistani for you? I am a proud Pakistani. Although, I’ve been born and raised an Indian and moved to Pakistan only when I was 21, I still consider myself to be more Pakistani than anyone else. I love this country, which has so much potential. Pakistanis just need a little push in the right direction. What has been you biggest achievement so far? Being successful in motivating all the disables athletes to do great for themselves and Pakistan, is my biggest achievement. We, at Daily Times, consider you to be one of our national heroes. Who are some of yours? Dr Ishrat Husain is my hero. All those sportspersons who have brought home fame and gold to Pakistan and who do not get the right recognition that they should are my heroes. Achievements Helm Of Philanthropy Ronak Lakhani is considered one of the pioneers when it comes to social causes. She is the force behind the Special Olympics of Pakistan. She is also the vice president of the Network of Organisations Working for People with Disabilities, Pakistan and an active fundraiser for the SOS Villages, the Layton Rahmatulla Benevolent Trust and the Kidney Centre The SOP Gold Ronak heads the SOP, which brought home 33 medals this year, defying every kind of disability. Pakistan won 14 gold medals, 11 silver medals and eight bronze medals in total. Awarded For Excellence Ronak was awarded with the Sitara-e-Imtiaz this month in recognition of her selfless services to differently-abled persons. The government honoured her with the fourth-highest decoration given to any civilian in the country based on one’s extraordinary achievement.