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The 7th episode of “Dunya k rang, NUST k sang”, hosted by Adil Ali Tariq, featured Miss Mahum Erkin, a NUSTian from SADA, the batch of 2019, who is the CEO & founder of the Yardim Foundation, an NGO striving to bring about positive change in society.

Mahum told the audience about the origins of her NGO. The word “Yardim” itself is Turkish and means “help”. Yardim was started by Mahum alongside her sister, who is a dentist, with the motivation behind starting it was providing help to the underprivileged and those in need. Their pioneer projects include providing free dental screenings to people across Pakistan. Thereafter, they started catering to mental health awareness as well. This included conducting sessions aimed at creating emotional awareness among children.

Mahum then told us about how COVID-19 impacted her organization’s work. Despite the challenges due to the pandemic, Yardim Foundation kept operating utilizing the online medium for their mental health sessions. Furthermore, a rationing program was launched to help out the daily wager class who were the worst impacted by the pandemic. Relief was provided to over 800 families across Punjab. This one-time venture then grew into a long-term program that has been running for over a year now.

Mahum told us that choosing the Turkish language for the organization’s name was a homage to her diverse heritage. She’s Uighur and Uzbek from her paternal side and Afghan and Turkish from her maternal side. She spoke of her close emotional affiliation with the word as well, because it is a way for her to stay connected with her roots.

The guest then spoke of the origin story of her foundation. It was in the slump when she put her studies in a pause that she decided to found Yardim, as a way to channelize that negative energy into a positive initiative. It was, as she said herself, “a setback that ended up bearing fruit.”

Our host Adil then asked the guest about how she managed to join hands with her sister when their fields – Architecture & Dentistry, varied so much. Mahum’s response to this was that their goal was the utilization of the knowledge and skills they possessed to help in any way possible, with them being a bonus to whatever they were doing and not necessarily a constraint. She told him how she uses her expertise in art & design in her mental health sessions very effectively. The organization aims to cater to a variety of issues, and it is meant to be multifaceted by its very nature.

Mahum said that Yardim plans on expanding and increasing its initiatives one step at a time, looking for solutions to any pressing problems that may present themselves with time.

The stigmatization of mental health was then discussed. Both our host and the guest agreed that creating mental health awareness is essential, and seeking help whenever needed is crucial.

Mahum emphasized however that there is hope, and while there’s the faction of society that views mental health as a touchy, taboo subject, there’s an overwhelming majority of the youth that not only understands the importance of mental health but also actively works to create positive change. This energy and interest of the young people of Pakistan are refreshing in Mahum’s words.

Our guest then spoke about her life at NUST. She said that initially, she found it challenging because ending up at the university was unprecedented for her. It was overwhelming in the beginning but then she made herself feel at home at NUST. It has been a platform, she says, and that she’s found like-minded people amongst a large and diverse community of students. The experiences and events she’s attended here have been very enriching though short-lived due to the pandemic. She hopes to make a lot more memories and looks forward to being back on campus.

Mahum mentioned that academia was overwhelming initially, as it was challenging maintaining a balance between social and work life. She spoke of the importance of saying no at times for one’s sanity and well-being. She said that she has now learned to manage it, taking things as they come, one step at a time.

Finally, a fun session on general knowledge took place. Our host Adil had his fair share of fun. The guest found his riddles both amusing and entertaining.

The episode concluded by Mahum reiterating the importance of clinging on to anything positive that comes one’s way, which was a powerful note to end on.

By Syed M. Hassan Kazmi


About The Author

Mahnoor Abdullah

Pragmatic with a knack for emotive overthinking. Hoping to make a career in science. Could spend endless days with coffee and books in a Hole.