Mohammedi Durbar, a retired Pakistani industrialist, yearns to provide shade to Iraqi pilgrims against the scorching sun.
Durbar has sent thousands of saplings to Iraq and plans to help plant a total of 50,000 trees across the 80 km of the sacred route between the Iraqi cities of Karbala and Najaf. Consequently, he will be providing relief to millions of pilgrims that travel on foot under the scorching Iraqi sun for the holy ritual of Arbaeen.
The idea sprouted when Durbar’s relatives returned from barren landscapes of the religious route with photos and sunburns. He immediately realized that shade is needed and traveled to Iraq to take action. He contacted officials and got his project approved with an assurance that his trees would be cared for.
He then tested the barren land by planting a few trees to see if they could flourish there. The test was a success with Durbar approving that the trees are “happy”.
The first batch of trucks set off from Karachi on a journey from Iran to Iraq. It carried about 9800 saplings of eight different kinds and ages of up to 8 months.
The cargo got delayed by 30 days due to visa complications and anti-government protests going on in Iraq. However, Durbar confirmed that the saplings would be taken care of throughout their journey.
These young trees will first spend time in a nursery in Baghdad, and plantation is estimated to start in March. Durbar predicts that it will take at least three years for them to fully mature.
The project is costing Durbar roughly Rs. 25 million, all of which he is paying by himself.
At the age of 85, he is not sure if he will live to see the day that pilgrims walk under his trees, but he rests assured that he has found his true calling after years of industry work.