PACC-Pakistan Day &ChildLife Foundation Fundraiser in Silicon Valley
By Ras H. Siddiqui
The Pakistani American Community Center (PACC) held a befitting Pakistan Day event at Chandni Restaurant in California’s Silicon Valley on Friday, March 24, 2017. In keeping with its goal of community service, this PACC event really reached far outwards this time, all the way to Karachi, Pakistan where ChildLife Foundation (http://childlifefoundation.org/) is doing some great work, saving the lives of children in one of the world’s largest metropolitan areas.
Karachi by many estimates holds over 10% of the entire population of Pakistan and within it are large representative populations of all the ethnic groups in the country. And if the challenges of providing healthcare to the entire country are not enough (Pakistan has third-highest infant mortality rate in the world), they are even more so for children in its largest city. To address this particular problem ChildLife Foundation has stepped in to assist. And one can think of few better ways of celebrating Pakistan Day in the United States than by helping efforts like ChildLife. Lastly, when you add to the mix, entertainment from the legendary Alamgir, it was a ‘win-win” evening for all.
The event began with a social hour and dinner before emcee SairaJabbar (with her wonderful British accent) called everyone’s attention to start the proceedings. And what a wonderful start it turned out to be as Kamil Chaudhry and Iman Ali moved the audience with their powerful rendition of the American and Pakistani national anthems. And more kids appeared on stage with a follow-up dance to a national song (Tere Bina Dil Na Lage-Pakistan) to the delight of all after which PACC President RabiaAdil added her official words of welcome on behalf of the organization.
DrAhson Rabbani, CEO of ChildLife, spoke next. He started by very briefly introducing the work of the Foundation and stressed that the organization has the goal of saving one million lives annually. He said that while we are celebrating the 23rd of March, it is pertinent to remember that we are dedicating this work to the freedom fighters of 1947. We owe a debt to the people who gave their lives so that we could be free, said Rabbani. He explained how the organization got to address its goal, of saving one million lives, by showing a picture of a very unsanitary emergency room of 125-year-old Civil Hospital, Karachi, taken in 2010. He said that this is a public facility and the reason why we focus on it is that government hospitals are the ones visited by the poor who cannot afford private medical care. Today, thanks to ChildLife and our donations, the entire emergency room has been upgraded to international standards and he showed an “after” picture to prove his point.
Ahson singled out infant mortality in Pakistan due to the lack of hygiene, vaccinations and proper nutrition. He said that poverty is a factor but that there are 26 countries poorer than Pakistan that have a better infant survival rate than our country of origin. He added that in spite of what the experts may say the bottom line is that these children die because nobody cares. Ahson also explained that it costs about $7.00 to save the life of a child in Pakistan and the immediate goal is to establish five emergency centers in Karachi to cover some of the immediate needs of the city.
A video presentation and a personal message from two-time Oscar winner SharmeenObaidChinoy got everyone motivated to donate here. It needs to be mentioned that the goal of the supporters of ChildLife Foundation in the San Francisco bay area was to raise $350,000 and that approximately $290,000 had already been raised even before this event (this is Silicon Valley and some people of Pakistani origin are motivated and have deep pockets plus there was a match by some well-known corporations). Some of the major people involved including Osman Rashid (a trustee of ChildLife), Renee Rashid, Raghib Hussain and AsgharAboobaker along with a few others also took the opportunity to address this gathering.
One cannot complete this brief report without mentioning the entertainment section. Assad J. Waince started things with a great vocal delivery of DilDil Pakistan, a legacy left behind by the late Junaid Jamshed of the Vital Signs and ended with JazbahJunoon. Assad has moved back to Pakistan and is seriously pursuing his music career there and we will look forward to his first music video soon. He is extremely talented and one does not have to take our word for it because the legendary Alamgir, the main performer who followed him, said so himself.
One of the founders of Pop music in Pakistan (which some say started with Ahmad Rushdi’sKoKoKorina) AlamgirHaq has maintained quite a fan base. It was interesting to note that a few ladies here at this event were singing along with him and knew every word to some of his songs. He started with “Hum Pakistan Hain” in honor of Pakistan Day and then moved on to a number of his romantic songs that a generation or two of Pakistanis grew up with like “Shaam Se PehleyAaana” and his classic “AlbelaRahi,” to name a few.
In closing, it is good to note that successful Pakistani-Americans are giving something back to Pakistan. Celebrating Pakistan Day with flag waving and music is good but efforts like this one by PACC hold greater value, because they also help many who are less fortunate. That the affluence of Silicon Valley Pakistani-Americans is being felt positively back home is a credit to our community.
(Bay Area Pakistanis will be holding another event on April 15th at Chandni to support The Indus Hospital in Korangi-Karachi. Please visit http://friendsofindushospital.com/events for details. Zia Mohyeddin Sahib is scheduled to be present)