Community Shows Overwhelming Support for Islamic Relief at Fundraiser
By Akhtar M. Faruqui
Pictures by Anwar Khawaja
The Islamic Relief Fundraiser at the Hilton on May 19 furnished fresh proof of the community’s continuing and wholehearted support for the multifarious initiatives of the reputed charity aimed at precipitating a wholesome change in Pakistan. The glittering spacious hall, packed-to-capacity with enthusiastic community members, testified to the popularity that Islamic Relief has come to enjoy among Pakistani Americans.
In her enviable clipped BBC accent, Shaista Khan (Pakistan Development Coordinator for US), emcee of the evening, admirably conducted the proceedings. Her colleagues – Anwar Khan (Vice President), Azhar Azeez (National Director) and Abdul Ghafoor (Southwest Operational Manager) - presented a vivid account of the charity’s undertakings in Pakistan. Consul General Mrs Riffat Masood lauded Islamic Relief’s sustained strivings to bring about a change in the life of the underprivileged segment of population in Pakistan. The Consul General also paid a tribute to the leadership qualities and batting prowess of cricketer Shahid Afridi who had specially flown from Karachi to attend the fundraiser.
Afridi drew repeated and hearty applause from the excited audience that appeared gleeful and in high spirits to see the dashing cricketer in their midst. “Aap ko dekh kar thakawat door ho gaee,” remarked the exhausted Afridi, his fatigue visibly resulting from the tiring jet lag. He went on to make a well-meaning urging to the audience: “Aap ki madad sae Balochistan ki halat bohat behtar hoee. Aaj bhi Pakistan ko aap ki madad ki zaroorat hae.”
Alamgir, as always, had an enlivening influence on the proceedings and sang several popular songs to the delight of the appreciative audience.
Speaking on the occasion, Islamic Relief CEO Abed Ayoub recounted the charity’s steady growth that has won wide acclaim and unreserved recognition. He enumerated several developmental plans of the charity - “beyond emergency relief” – in Pakistan. According to a leaflet distributed at the fundraiser, Islamic Relief has been providing services in Pakistan since 1992. Projects have included orphan support, vocational training, water and sanitation, and health care services as well as major relief efforts after the 2005 earthquake and the 2010 floods.
In keeping with its laudable mission of alleviating poverty and suffering wherever it is found, Islamic Relief has embarked upon several developmental projects in Pakistan. The well-meaning initiatives sustain their momentum.
The need for such initiatives was succinctly spelled out by CEO Abed Ayoub in his message on the occasion:
Many of you sitting in this room today fondly remember the taste of Pakistan’s ripe summer fruits, the smell of freshly baked naan purchased from a street vendor and the sounds of children playing in verandahs during rain storms. Pakistan’s rich culture and history attract so many of us, However, there is a gloomier side to Pakistan that often goes unseen, unheard, and ignored: more than half of its 187 million people are living in poverty and more than 70% of the population lives on less than $2 a day. These situations are staggering. I ask you to join me in aiding the people of Pakistan, washing away the worries of their past and building them a better future. I ask you to help the children of Pakistan sleep more soundly at night, on beds of their own and in homes that you have helped build for them.
His message was well received. The community donated handsomely that evening.
Islamic Relief’s efficiency and transparency have earned it high levels of recognition and trust. Charity Navigator, the largest charity evaluator in the United States, has awarded Islamic Relief its top rating - 4 Stars - for eight consecutive years. The Chronicle of Philanthropy has listed it among the top 150 charities out of 10,000 US organizations.