Fundraiser for Pakistani Flood Victims in the Bay Area
By Ras H. Siddiqui
Pictures above: Glimpses of the fundraiser
The Pakistani American Chamber of Commerce & Industries USA and Bay Area friends inclusive of members from the local Indian community held a fundraiser for flood relief in Pakistan at the Mehran Restaurant in the San Francisco Bay Area city of Newark on Saturday, September 4 th. The program incorporated the breaking of the Ramadan fast (Iftar), thus serving a dual purpose of bringing Muslims and people of other faiths together.
Coordinated locally by Idrees Shah, Anjum Malik, Mian Shahbaz and Shahab Siddiqui, the focus was on raising assistance money for the Edhi Foundation and the Human Development Foundation along with the introduction of the southern California-based Saba Trust to this area. Edhi, HDF and Saba have a long history of high profile humanitarian work including educational support in Pakistan.
Fremont City Mayor Bob Wasserman was present to encourage the people who came to help following an appeal for the victims of one of the largest human displacements in recent history, anywhere in the world. Literally millions of Pakistanis have been made homeless by flooding along the Indus River, and their crops, stored food grain and livestock have either disappeared completely or have been heavily impacted. It would be accurate here to project that millions of people face a grim prospect of disease, hunger and the inability to grow food in the coming year in Pakistan.
The formal program started off with the customary Qur’anic recitation with Ahsan Baig following up by thanking the participants for coming to support the millions who currently face calamity in Pakistan. He especially thanked those people who were not from Pakistan but who had come to attend the event to show their support. “The relationship we have is on the basis of humanity,” he said. Ahsan also went into the logistical details of the impact of this tragedy, especially on the more than three million displaced children.
Dr. Rajabally spoke next and conducted the short fundraiser as the breaking of the Ramdan fast was approaching. He said that people should not just stop and say that they have already given because the need is enormous. “We think that those people (victims in Pakistan) are being tested? No. We are being tested here,” he said. Dr. Rajabally added that in spite of downturns we still live in relative abundance in America and can afford to dig deeper. “This is the month to be extra generous,” he said.
Mayor Bob Wasserman in his address reflected on the impact of this tragedy and wished that he were here on a happier occasion. “To deal with these kinds of problems takes a lot of time and a lot of money,” he said. “I commend all of you for coming here,” he added. The Mayor of Fremont also took the opportunity to present a plaque of appreciation to the Pakistani American Chamber of Commerce and its local leadership for organizing the fundraiser and for their continued contribution to this community.
To conclude, it was good to witness the community spirit at this event which raised more than $20,000 for some people in dire need of assistance in Pakistan. South Asians need to get together every now and then to share their tragedies. Today, it is Pakistan, but who knows which country may need our help next time?