View Full Version : Pakistani Cricketers join Anwar Khan's Journey to Flood-Devastated Areas

24th August 2010, 07:00
:ykAnwar Khan, Islamic Relief USA’s Vice President of Fund Development, is in Pakistan helping with relief efforts to provide aid and support to victims of the devastating floods. He set off from Dallas, Texas one week ago. Get live updates via @AnwarKhan_IRUSA on Twitter.

Shortly after my arrival in Pakistan, I met up with some personalities in Karachi, Pakistan to help with Islamic Relief's flood relief efforts. People in Karachi have not been affected by the floods, but evacuees are arriving on the outskirts of the city. Pakistani cricket player Younus Khan and retired cricketer Salahuddin Ahmed accompanied Haris Khan and I to Islamabad.

Early Friday morning, we set off for Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and arrived a few hours later in Londa, Charsaddah – a rural village that was decimated by the floods in one of the earliest areas to be flooded when torrential rains commenced over three weeks ago. Islamic Relief has provided tents, clean water, water cans, kitchen sets, blankets and other items to affected families here. Many people lost their homes and their belongings, yet they were overjoyed at meeting Younus Khan. They felt they were being ignored by the world and were happy to see that not everyone had forgotten them.

The people in the village had been receiving cooked suhur and iftar. The men were trying to rebuild their homes during the days and returning to the tents at night to be with their families.

We were concerned about waterborne diseases and were encouraging people to take their tents to drier land for their own safety.

There was a commotion in the campsite caused by a man with a wad of money he had come to distribute. A mob was forming around him and he was followed around the camp. I could see the frustration on his face. We asked him to leave for his own safety otherwise the situation could have gotten out of control. People walking around distributing money have been assaulted due to the sheer desperation.

Sabara in Charsaddah was our next stop. A team of Islamic Relief volunteers had already assessed the needs of each household in Sabara. On our arrival, an aid distribution truck was waiting for us and we spent several hours unloading and distributing food, kitchen sets, blankets and other items to preselected beneficiaries.

The temperature was over 100 degrees Fahrenheit and we were fasting. The sweat was not dripping, but flowing off our faces, yet no one from our team complained. We could see destruction all around us and most people waited patiently for hours for their supplies. As we were about to finish distribution, some women from a neighboring village approached us and asked why we had not distributed supplies in their village.

They had not received any aid in three weeks.

Even though we are doing many distributions across the country, it is not enough. Islamic Relief is helping tens of thousands of people, but there are at least 20 million in need.

I noticed there were no aid convoys on the roads, as there were in the 2005 earthquake. There are so many people in such a large area that even if some aid is arriving it is hardly noticed.

A massive effort is needed.

Our last distribution was an hour away in Zara Mena, Nowshera, another remote village. They had not received any aid from any organization except Islamic Relief. A local representative wanted to express his appreciation for the support Islamic Relief had offered his village, when no one else had.

We distributed plastic sheeting, tarps, detergent, mosquito nets, blankets, water cans and water coolers in Zara Mena. Food given to the villagers by Islamic Relief was allowing them to eat. Younus Khan, Haris Khan and Salahuddin Ahmed, who had not complained the whole day despite working tirelessly in the heat distributing supplies, were deeply affected by the devastation.

When I finally reached Islamabad that night, I was able to eat knowing that several hundred families would also be eating from the distributions we were involved in. It made the meal easier.