In Conversation With Rameeza Mueen – CEO Transparent Hands

"After working in the field of education for 15 years, we decided to do something for the country. This is how Transparent Hands came into being."

Question 1: How did you start this incredible NGO- Transparent Hands? What is the story
behind it?
Answer: I am from the field of education. I have done MPhil in English Linguistics. And I
worked in the field of education for 15 years. My mother is a doctor. She worked in the health
sector and is the founder of the biggest social security hospital in entire Asia. It had 600 beds.
She spent her entire life serving the laborers who worked in factories. So, I take my key
inspiration from my mother. Since childhood, I saw her working for people who cannot afford
any kind of treatment. By building this hospital, she worked day and night for the provision of
quality healthcare services to the most underprivileged people.
Secondly, we have farms in a remote area of Ubauro (Sindh). As a child, whenever I used to go
there with my mother, I saw her setting up free medical camps. From morning till evening, she
used to offer them free consultation and medicines. I always used to ask her why the people were
coming to her and not going to the hospitals for their treatment. She always told me that there are
not enough hospitals and the ones that do exist do not have the required facilities. Also, the
hospitals are too far from people’s residences. That is why they used to come to her because there
was no facility to cater to their needs. The female population was even more severely affected
because of this lack of resources.
My mother spent 40 years of her life for this cause. So, as a child, when I saw my mother
working for the underprivileged people, it left a huge impact on my mind. Consequently, after
working in the field of education for 15 years, me and my brothers decided to do something for
the country. Taking the example of our mother, we ventured into the health sector since it is the
most deprived section of our community. This is how Transparent Hands came into being. It was
an initial small idea that bloomed into the organization that you see today with the hard work and
efforts of my team.

Question 2: What challenges do you face on a day-to-day basis? Walk us through a day in
your life.
Answer: If I have to talk about the challenges broadly, there are a lot of challenges that I faced. The
challenges included setting up a proper account system in order to make each and every process
transparent. We needed to provide feedback to the donors. Marketing was also one of the
biggest challenges and it is still a big challenge as the goal is to involve more corporate sector.
We intend to bring more people to this platform and raise awareness regarding the work that we
are doing. We also want people to know how we are different from other organizations. We want
the message to spread to the entire world so marketing never stops. We constantly focus on
the innovation and growth of our company to maintain the brand name.

Regarding your question about my day, it starts early in the morning. I make breakfast for my
children. My day kick starts as soon as I reach the office as there is one meeting after the other. I
keep in touch with my colleagues and employees. Me and my team brainstorm together and
make all the important decisions. I spend my whole day with my team. We all play our part in
nurturing this organization.
When I go back home then that is my time. I try to spend some of it with my children.
Household chores also need my attention. I also make it a point to take out some time for exercise.
Since, our organization is not only registered in Pakistan but also in the US and UK so, in the
evening time, I get international calls because it is daytime in those countries. Sometimes we
even have meetings which are late at night. In a nutshell, transparent hands is a 24/7 job. There is no relaxation. But I try to balance my work and home life.

Question 3: In the past six years of Transparent Hands, out of 26,000 successful cases, which cases and targets were the toughest for you and your team to achieve?
Answer: Targets are always difficult to achieve. In the past 6 years, there were many targets that
were difficult for us to achieve. It could be marketing. It could be reaching a certain amount of
donation. It could be treating a certain number of patients.
As far as the patients are concerned, I still remember one case. She was a patient with a congenital
cardiac defect and was only 15 years old. Her family belonged to a very remote area. We
arranged for her cardiac surgery. She recovered and went back home in a satisfactory state. But
afterward, within a few days, she started bleeding again. The blood started accumulating around
her lungs and heart. Her family came back to us for urgent help. It was a very disturbing
scenario. My team members spent the whole night with her. We sent her again to the cardiac
surgeon. Another surgery was performed and the accumulated blood was removed. Finally, she
survived. It was a difficult case but through the efforts of my entire team, we were able to save
the girl’s life. It has been 4 or 5 years now. She is studying and aspires to be a doctor. I think this
was definitely the biggest achievement of my team.

Question 4: How do the people in need approach Transparent Hands?
Answer: There are different means through which the patients approach our organization.
Firstly, we conduct free medical camps all across Pakistan in the rural areas as well as in the
suburbs. In the medical camps, different tests are conducted. Some of these tests include
Hepatitis B and C screening, HIV test, and ultrasound. Apart from this initial consultation, there
are those patients also who require surgical intervention. So, we register those cases with us and
when their turn comes, they are provided with free surgical treatment. That is one way through
which the patients approach us.

The second way that we use is marketing. We put up banners in the government and the local
hospitals. So, the patients who are waiting in queues for their turn to get surgeries and sometimes
have to wait 6 months or even a number of years, they read the brochures and come to us. We
take up their case after financial and medical verification.
The patients also come to us through donors. Also, the companies that are supporting us also
send their employees to us who cannot afford treatment. And now, since we have successfully
conducted so many surgeries, the patients also come to us through word of mouth. The patients
who got their surgeries done through our organization, refer other people to us.

Question 5: Does your team receive donations from Pakistan only or all over the world, and
what’s the procedure for donating?
Ans: We receive donations from all over the world. We have a crowdfunding platform on which
stories of the patients along with their details are published. People all around the world can see
who the patient is and what kind of help he requires. And then they can donate via Stripe or
Paypal. Apart from these online payment modes, they could also donate via cheque or by
depositing cash in the bank accounts. Our organization is registered not only in Pakistan but also
in the US and UK. There are separate bank accounts. So, if someone wants to donate by depositing a
cheque in the bank account, he is most welcome to do that. If they want to donate via an online
platform, they can do that.

Question 6: How transparent is the data of the patients and donors? What aspects of the
campaigns do the donors and patients have access to?
Answer: The data of the patients is available on the website. It includes their pictures, medical
forms, and other details. Also, the patients who have been treated and are now healthy, their
success stories are also available on the website. In the same way, we also save the details of the
donors who have donated for patients. Sometimes, some donors want to stay anonymous. In that
case, we do not mention their details on the website. But at the back end, we have their entire
data saved. For the donors who donate to the patient, their personal dashboard is created. They can
log in to their dashboard and view when the patient got operated on, the cost of his surgery, and his
hospital bills. The donors can also view the patient documents, their testimonials in the form of
videos, and their success stories.

Question 7: After receiving Tamgha-e-Imtiaz, how did you feel and what was the biggest
change that happened after it?
Answer: It was a big achievement. I was not expecting that I would get such a big reward from
the government. The government recognized my efforts and it was a huge honor for me. I
definitely felt very happy, elated, and motivated. As far as the change is concerned, I am still the
same. My routine is the same. I am still working for the people. But, I definitely feel optimistic now and want people to know that if you do something good, the government will recognize
your efforts.

Question 8: How has the pandemic affected your work?
Answer: The pandemic affected Transparent Hands for some time since the patients were afraid to go to
the hospitals to get their surgeries done. But that was only for two to three months. We shortly
resumed with our surgeries and treatments because healthcare services are required all the time.
It’s an ongoing process even if there is a pandemic or calamity since there are certain surgeries
that cannot be delayed.

Question 9: Who or what inspires you?
Answer: Besides my mother, someone who inspired me a lot was Mr. Edhi. Edhi Sahab’s
contribution to the nation is invaluable. He was such a simple person and he worked tirelessly
for his country without spending anything on himself or his family. Whatever donations he
collected, he spent them for the benefit of the underprivileged community.

Question 10: What advice would you like to give to the ones who want to start their own
Answer: Transparent Hands is a trust organization that is a little different from an NGO. If anyone wants to start a trust organization or an NGO, he should have a big vision in his mind. What is the
problem that he wants to cater to and what is going to be its solution? A clear vision is a major
prerequisite. Also, transparent and honest hard work is required with selfless devotion. An NGO
demands consistent and persistent efforts to run. Thank you!

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