Zafar is among millions of Pakistanis who do not give up hope in the face of adversity, and the harder the challenge, the more resolute they become in overcoming it. Zafar belongs to Utror, a back-of-beyond place in Pakistan’s north-west. Situated in one of the more inaccessible valleys of Swat in the Kyber Pakhtunkhwa province, the inhabitants of Utror could only dream of having electricity till Zafar, one of their own, returned home with skills of an electrician honed in Punjab where he had gone in search of education.With his ingenuity and perseverance Zafar was able to harness the waters of streams and outlets from river Swat for producing electricity for the people of Utror. In a community effort led and guided by Zafar, small turbines were installed to produce run-of the river electricity for the households of Utror.
The devastating floods that swept across Pakistan in July-August 2010 proved catastrophic for the people of Utror as in addition to other damages, the gushing waters swept away the small hydro power projects that the villagers had set up with nothing but sheer determination. For a while it appeared that all was lost, but there is a bit of Zafar – the name means victory – in all Pakistanis and surely the people of Utror regrouped and salvaged some of the turbines and reinstalled them. The pitch darkness brought on by the floods is once again pierced by a ray of hope; they call it ‘’Zafar’s light’’ in Utror. There still is much to be salvaged and restored in Pakistan in the aftermath of the floods, but with the resilience and innovativeness epitomized by communities like Utror and individuals like Zafar, prevailing over adversity is only a matter of time. Zafar is not just a name but an attitude here.