Dhoondo Karachi: Scavenging around the city for a cause

Updated 01 Dec, 2015 11:47am

A fundraising event for The Citizens Foundation, the scavenger hunt also encouraged Karachiites to explore their city

It all started at this fun  photo booth, which was a hit with the participants. — Photo by Ema Anis
It all started at this fun photo booth, which was a hit with the participants. — Photo by Ema Anis

Waking up early to head off to school on a Sunday morning is a dreadful idea indeed. But not for the hundreds of participants who showed up at The Citizens Foundation’s (TCF) Qayyumabad campus to participate in their fund-raising event this Sunday.

What drove them to the campus was the event's unique appeal: it was a citywide scavenger hunt. Teams, consisting of not more than four members, had three and a half hours to locate sites and items across Karachi using 38 clues. Each team was being registered for Rs6,800 – the cost of uniforms for eight TCF students.

The entire event was organized by Young Education Supporters (YES), a group of 20 young people who work under the umbrella of TCF.

“[The YES] people [will] be our successors. They conceived, planned and executed this plan,” said Bushra Afzal, the Vice Chairperson of Sisters of The Citizens Foundation (STCF).

Team leaders lining up before being handed out clues. — Photo by Ema Anis
Team leaders lining up before being handed out clues. — Photo by Ema Anis

“This is the first event that we have organized, and we only had five weeks to execute the whole plan,” said Armeen Ismail, a YES member. “The idea behind this hunt is that there are so many places in Karachi that people haven’t seen, so why not send them there.”

On your mark, get set, go!

The event was very engaging, right from the start. Upon entering the premises, the teams first had to take a picture at the photo booth before heading to the registration desk. Clever idea, as this picture helped YES volunteers recognize the team members.

Starter packs — Photo by Ema Anis
Starter packs — Photo by Ema Anis

Around 11am, the team leaders were handed clue sheets in sealed packets and were not allowed to open them until everyone had reached their cars. A whistle blew at 11:20am sharp, and the participants ran to their vehicles as fast as they could.

Everyone had to be back before the clock struck 4.

Meet the teams

The teams were not just enthusiastic about the hunt but also tried to be creative with their names.

‘Beach Lovers’, a team including two middle-aged schoolteachers, said they were participating for the cause of education, and hoped to do better than the younger teams because they “had more experience [of] the city”. Team ‘Clueless Clan’, who even had T-shirts made for the event, said they were trying to play reverse psychology on themselves and hoped to nab the top prize.

Team Beach Lovers. — Photo by Ema Anis
Team Beach Lovers. — Photo by Ema Anis

But it was Team Explorers who won the first prize for four round-trips to Dubai by solving all but one of the clues. The second prize was a helicopter ride over Karachi while other prizes included paragliding, a spa day, and food vouchers among others.

“I felt that it was a very creative and fun way for Karachiites to get to know their city better and raise money for a great cause,” said Team Explorer’s leader Anushka Talpur, while praising the event’s organizers for managing such a large number of people.

“The clues were interesting, challenging and allowed us to learn about the city. We sang 'Jazba Junoon' with some awesome strangers, took a selfie outside a Hindu Temple on MA Jinnah road, and literally drove all around Karachi solving clues.”

Talpur said that it was a surprise for her team to have won the first prize. “We never thought we would win anything. We were just having such a great time as a team, exploring and solving clues along the way.”

Another member of the winning team, Saad Nasir, revealed that they tried to cheat a little by asking for help from the other teams but they soon “ran short of sympathy”. “The hunt was made easy by our awesome team who did their parts really well and stayed organized,” he added.

All for charity

Not a single penny went out or came in into the pockets of the organizers. While the money collected through registrations went to the cause of education, the event was arranged with the help of the sponsors.

“We didn’t get any money at all for ourselves through this event. All that you see here is courtesy of our sponsors while the registration money will be used for buying uniforms,” said Ismail.

The winning team. — Publicity photo
The winning team. — Publicity photo

Among the sponsors was Careem, an Uber-like service recently launched in Pakistan. They not only sponsored six teams, but also provided 23 of their taxis for those with conveyance issues. “The teams that were in our cars will be tracked live here by us,” shared Fatima Mazhar, Careem’s General Manager in Pakistan, before the event.

Those using Careem cabs weren’t the only ones being tracked. All the teams were required to WhatsApp their selfies with every clue they solved to their respective YES representative back at the campus. The teams who solved the most clues won.

“We had over 100 teams, which brings us to a grand total of a whopping Rs6 lakhs that we raised today for The Citizens Foundation!” read an announcement by YES on Facebook after the event.

YES hopes to organize the scavenger hunt every year.