Nonprofit Leader Parveen Rehman, “Karachi’s Mother,” Remembered

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March 14, 2013; Source: BBC News

The world has lost an admirable nonprofit leader. Parveen Rehman was the driving force behind the Orangi Pilot Project, a poverty relief nonprofit that was reportedly among Pakistan’s most effective nonprofit organizations. Rehman was killed by gunmen while driving in Karachi and her funeral was held on Wednesday. She had been calling attention to land grabs in Karachi, which the BBC reports aroused the ire of some of the city’s criminal syndicates, although no one has come forward to claim responsibility for Rehman’s death or to indicate that it was related to her work.

Rehman was originally trained as an architect but later moved into the sanitation field. Her work with the Orangi Pilot Project, highlighted in Steve Inskeep’s book, Instant City: Life and Death in Karachi, included collaborating with communities on local housing and health issues. The BBC reports that one Karachi resident described Rehman as “a great help for us. She was just like an elder sister to whom we would go whenever a problem struck us.”

In an interview with the Express Tribune, the National Trade Union Federation’s Nasir Mehmood called Rehman “Karachi’s mother” and said that she “strived hard to improve the city’s water supply, education and sanitation. But she cared about other places too.” Yesterday, students at Karachi University, where Rehman taught, gathered en masse to protest her killing. –Mike Keefe-Feldman