Bay Area Pakistanis Support Their Flood-struck Countrymen
By A.H. Cemendtaur
You wonder why this year's floods in Pakistan are not as big a news as the floods of 2010 were. Maybe because the international media is tired of reporting the Pakistani floods. Maybe because 2010 floods had a greater area of devastation, from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the north to Sindh in the south; whereas this year's floods have mostly affected Sindh.
No matter what the reason behind the low media attention to the recent floods is, hundreds of thousands of people have been affected by encroaching waters; those who were forced to leave homes are living a miserable life and deserve the support of people who can help these flood victims.
Several Bay Area organizations and individuals who feel the pain of their fellow countrymen, came together to arrange a Pakistan Flood Relief Fund & Awareness Raiser, on October 29, 2011, at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View. The main people behind this effort were the same people who are active in OPEN. This worthy cause was supported by Raghib and Kanwal Family Foundation, Humera and Naveed Anwar, Dr. Mubashar and Farah Rana, Abdulrahman Rafiq, Moazzam and Aifra Chaudry, Nabeela and Noor Lodhi, Umair and Zareen Khan, Adnan and Aruba Lawai (FOLIO3), Idris Kothari and Saeed Kazmi, Nayeem Qureshi (AMANA), Asghar and Noreen Aboobakar, Dr. Tanveer and Sophia Sattar, Dr. Shahid and Bushra Abbasi, Javed and Shaheena Khan, Junaid and Malika Quraishi, Zulki and Rebecca Khan, Babar and Shama Khan, Aaref and Fariha Hilaly, Sarim Siddiqui, Rehan and Mariam Jalil, MASHAL, Zain and Farzana Jeewanjee, Dr. Sabir Khan, Dr. Noor-ul-Ain and Dr. Shakeel Khan, Dr. Aslam Barra and Dr. Fayyaz Asghar, Shuja and Nayela Keen, and Imran and Huma Qureshi.
Even before the October 29 program, attendees had given their donations to relief organizations identified by the organizers. The program was focused towards increasing awareness about the flood devastation and giving another chance to donors to pledge more money for help. The relief organizations endorsed by the organizers included SA Relief, Shine Humanity, Islamic Relief, APPNA, Hidaya Foundation, Human Development Fund (HDF), Imran Khan Foundation, Doctors Without Borders, and others.
The event was emceed by Omar Khan (of 'Jaiza', a TV show) who started off the program by showing to the audience a presentation comprising of scenic images from Pakistan. Omar introduced Umair Khan as the mastermind behind the Us Now (if not us, who? If not now, when?) organization, the principal architect of the Oct 29 program.
In his short speech Umair Khan said that along with Moazzam Chaudry, Shuja Keen, Dr. Mubashar Rana, and several others he decided to do this program not just to raise funds but to raise awareness. "The floods are there and they are real. People are suffering and we need to express our solidarity with them." He said the program was a thank-you dinner and that he was especially thankful to the Bay Area community that has always stood up when asked, 'If not us, who?' and has responded with, 'No one else but us.'
Todd Shea of Shine Humanity showed photos of charity work his non-profit organization has been doing around the globe, including Pakistan. Todd Shea concluded his speech with a veracious acknowledgement, an observation that at least one attendee had in his mind. Shea said, "I have met Pakistanis who have been helping their people for thirty-forty years and nobody knows about them, and New York Times does not do a piece on them, and Atif Aslam isn't their friend, because they are not a Gora and they are not from America. They are just as important, and they have done ten million times more (charity work) than I have done, so please support them as well."
An entertainment program followed the speeches. Legend, a Bay Area band, active in the 90s and a victim of the dot com bubble, had especially come together to perform at the event. Except for Syed Amin, all other band members (Manesh Judge, Asim Wali, Noor Lodhi aka Shonu, and Imtiaz Ahmad) were present. The Legend was supported by Mike Anand (guitar) and Devika Chawla (vocals). Devika Chawla is a gifted singer; her well-trained voice has a sultry tone that carries an immense gravity -- this girl is going places.
Audio of the program is here:
A short video is here: