Impressive Fundraising Event for Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital
By Tahir Ali
Photo courtesy Rizvan Shaikh
Great team-work prevailed during the preparatory period as the ship called ‘Unity of purpose and division of labor’ sailed on rough waters and reached its destination in good time.
At the helm was Rashid Shaikh steering the team with his perseverance and negotiation skills at best, with PTI Coordinator Ayaz Hameed and Homaira Shaikh overseeing the online ticket selling apparatus in action, with Farooq Ansari managing to dig deep into people’s pockets to come up with an effective fund-raising drive, with Dr Naheed Usmani using her auditory skills in managing the program flow as the events of the day unfolded, and yours truly setting auctorial skills in motion for communications, media and posterity.
THE PROGRAM: The program was divided into three phases: Presentation, Fundraising and Entertainment. The evening started with a Qirat by Mohammad Yousaf, a welcome address by Dr. Naheed Usmani, and a thank you note by Rashid Shaikh.
Dr Saleem Khanani shared his scholastic view on charity work, but also panned out some medical advice, “Doctors here are unaware of their patients’ psycho-social issues. They need to devote more time listening to their patients rather than seeing more patients just to make money.”
Dr Nausherwan Burki , chief medical advisor and Board Director for the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital presented a slide show of the hospital.
To this day, since its inaugural in 1994, the hospital provides free care to thousands of cancer patients. Dr. Burki informed as he walked through the presentation and proudly asserted that the state-of-the-art hospital is adequately staffed and well equipped. He noted that the Hospital had the latest MRI-CT machine and is in perfect working condition. He argued that there was only one of those in Connecticut, and one in India.
In reference to the hospital expense budget, he pointed out that majority of the expenses are met by donations. The report showed that 70% of the expenses were met by donations raised from within Pakistan and the other 30% from overseas. The report findings really came as a surprise to Zahid Malik, the PTI coordinator, NH. He and others observed that 30% from abroad was really not too much. “We certainly can do more,” was Maliks' knee-jerk comment.
Fauzia Kasuri , Director International Fundraising for SKMCH, praised much of the work that was done by Imran Khan, both for the hospital and for the country. She assured the audience that they were supporting a good cause and their support is saving countless lives. She emphasized the need for funds is even greater because these funds help the cancer research program at the Hospital. “This research,” she added, “not only benefits Pakistan but the world benefits from this as well.” Judging from Fauzia Kasuri’s busy schedule, Dr. Usmani likened the lady to a super woman and remarked, “Fauzia Kasuri had attended five charity events in five countries before arriving in Boston. The morning was very busy for Mrs. Kasuri as well – from a speaking engagement at Harvard University and here she is now at this fundraising event, and tomorrow another meeting with the community and then leaving for Atlanta in the afternoon to attend another SKMH fundraiser event.”
Fauzia Kasuri is among the founding members of PTI [Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf] – which Imran Khan heads. “Imran Khan and I often have to wear two hats – one for PTI the other for the hospital,” she revealed to the audience and added, “we owe at least that much to Pakistan to help restore its image in the world so that we can walk tall and with pride.”
Salman Ahmad (Junoon fame) presented sufi kalaam to set the mood for fund-raising. The fund-raising drive was predominantly led by Farooq Ansari, however, Salman Ahmed also joined in to motivate people. They were able to raise an impressive $133,000, with Dr. Saleem Khanani and Dr. Mohammad Mushtaque donating a total of $35,000.
THE ENTERTAINMENT: Khalid Irfan, known for his humorous poetry, flew in from New York to entertain the audience with his amusing anecdotes and funny couplets. He was probably looking forward to dinner when he offered the following couplet:
Tumari daawat qabool mujhko magar tum itna khayaal rakhna
Beer kisse bhi brand ki ho magar chicken fried halaal rakhna
Homegrown stand-up comedian, Sameer Naseem, also flew in from New York where he has been busy doing his comedy routines. Sameer frequently shares the stage with other popular stand-up comedians like Uzhar Usman. Wearing a Jinnah hat and a well groomed beard Sameer was at ease since this was the state that he grew up in and most of the people in the audience were no strangers to him. He drew some laughter at the expense of one of his guests who had stayed with them. “There was no water in our house due to a main water pipeline breakage. Come Salaat time our guest goes into the bathroom to do wadu. Strangely enough he comes out and offered his prayers. We were wondering how he did wadu when there was no water. The mystery was solved when he praised our thoughtfulness of placing sand in a box in the bathroom so that one can do tayammum when there is no water,” Sameer paused for a moment, smiled and then went on, “we did not have the heart to tell him that the sandbox was our cat’s litter box.”
VOCALISTS: Shahram Azhar of “Laal” band accompanied by Hayley Sabella on the guitar offered some of his popular songs from his own album. Shahram originally from Lahore, is a vocalist as well as an activist. He and his band gained both national and international recognition for their song: Main Ne Kaha, a satirical poem composed in the 1960s by Habib Jalib. Shahram’s grandmother expired just a day before the event, but he still showed up and performed for the cause.
Sanchi Mukherjee , originally from Allahabad, sang some popular songs of Bollywood.
Salman and Samina Ahmad mesmerized the audience with their performance. Salman had the audience up on their feet dancing to his tunes. He gives credit to his mother for his love for music, “I got a lot of spirit from my mother’s side of the family. But the lively arts were nothing to aspire to in my father’s family. ‘Performing and jumping is only for street urchins,’ my paternal grandfather, would tell my father on occasion. ’Only reading and writing will make you truly noble.’” Both husband and wife took time off from their other philanthropic initiative “SSGWI.org” to attend this event – that was truly noble.
Salman Ahmad is set to make his debut as himself in the Bollywood film Rhythm. The film produced by Vivek Kumar, is currently being shot in Poland.
THE DAY AFTER: Humaira Shaikh with her friends Farah Khanani, Shahida Balaparia, Farzana Ilyas, Oaj Shahid, Labiba Ali, Laila Ramzan, Zahra Siddiqui and many others arranged an excellent brunch for Fauzia Kasuri and the planning committee. Fauzia addressed the members of the SKMH fund-raising planning committee and congratulated them for a wonderful event and great team work. She praised Ayaz Hameed for starting the initiative to form a PTI chapter in Massachusetts and encouraged those present to join hands with Ayaz and form the chapter. Speaking highly of Imran Khan she noted that his integrity and honesty are unquestionable. She felt that everyone likes to donate to Imran Khan because they know that “every dollar collected goes to the rightful person.” In reference to the great floods in Pakistan, she added, “In three weeks he raised 6.5 million rupees for the flood victims whereas no one was donating much money to the Prime Minister Fund - it’s all about trust.” Kasuri also pointed out that the Pakistanis overseas now have voting rights. “This is a God-sent opportunity – your vote is more precious and can now make a difference.”
Dr. Khalid Sadozai did not question Imran Khan’s honesty and integrity but he observed that the party trend is moving toward the “old political way”. He argued that the PTI is inducting those who have deserted their own parties. Kasuri’s response was a simple one, “Not everyone is corrupt – and on the other hand we have an open door policy.” She, however, reassured everyone to have faith in Imran Khan’s leadership. According to Fauzia Kasuri people have high expectations from Imran Khan. “We get more questions posed to us than the sitting government.”
Dr Zaheer Ahmed , a strong supporter of PTI chimed in, “People who are willing to contribute to PTI financially they should be encouraged to do so.”
THE CREW: Rashid Shaikh is the head of Global Supply Chain and member of the legislative body in the town of Shrewsbury.
Ayaz Hameed is a corporate attorney and a strong supporter of PTI and Imran Khan. He coordinated and hosted the musical part of the program.
Farooq Ansari is a successful business man, a true leader, an elected National District delegate, and founding member of many organizations.
Tahir Ali, MSEE, is a graduate of McGill University, an elected National Delegate-at-large, recipient of key-to-the-city and author of a book on American Muslims’ political and social activity.
Dr. Naheed Usmani is a Clinical Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Clinical Director of Pediatric Hematology Oncology at University of Massachusetts Medical School. She returned to Pakistan 1994-99 as Chair of Pediatrics, Shaukat Khanum Cancer Hospital, Lahore, where she established the country’s top pediatric oncology department.
Dr. Saleem Khanani i s an Oncologist and affiliated with UMass Memorial Hospital. He is known in the community more for his vast knowledge in almost every field. He is often sought out for religious advice and scholastic views.
Dr. Daniyal Siddiqui i s an associate professor of Hematology and Medical Oncology at UMass Memeorial Medical Center. He provided much of the needed seed money and encouragement to enable better execution of the SKMH event when it was at its infant stage of planning.
Dr. Mohammad Yousaf i s a physicist and software engineer and has been serving the Greater Worcester Community for 20 years in various social and religious organizations.
Dr. Khalid Sadozai is a chemist. He has many patents to his name. Dr. Sadozai is an active member of the community and is currently the elected President of the ISGW. He along with Mohammad Ilyas, past ISGW president, Hanif Balapariya and Mian Ashiq undertook the monumental task of making dinner arrangements.
Acknowledgements are also due to Rizvan Sheikh, Shahid Ikram, Atif Rao for photography and video, Reno Khan, Jawad Hussain, Shazia Khan (champion ticket seller), Homaira Shaikh for facilitating weekly pre-meetings and Javed Wahid for his great sound system and setup.
As the ship pulled anchor the crew felt a sense of accomplishment, and the words of Imran Khan echoed over the sea of tranquility, “Shaukat Khanum [Hospital] is indeed a living tribute to your kindness and generosity.”
(Tahir Ali is the author of ‘Muslim Vote Counts’)
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