On behalf of a group of random citizens called the ‘civil society’ of Islamabad , I would like to pay tribute to the much larger random group of generous citizens from all over the country and abroad whose donations have enabled us to do what we are doing. We may be a few faces which the public sees, but we represent a much larger group of ‘real heroes’ without whose trust and generosity we would be nowhere. The idea of mobilizing people began during the military operation in Swat, when hundreds of thousands of people were fleeing Swat and other parts of the Malakand division to seek refuge in the countless camps, both official and non-official, in various parts of the former N.W.F.P. The campaign began with an SMS which we sent to all our contacts, asking them to forward it to their contacts. The response was amazing , because many of the donors were total strangers, and yet they trusted us with their money. A blog was created and was constantly updated along with photographs. This was not meant to be a cheap publicity stunt, rather it was our way of self accountability, which was extremely important for our credibility , as well as for the satisfaction of our donors.
Unfortunately our beautiful country is again crying out for help, and we could not cover our ears and pretend we could’nt hear them. The calamity we are facing as a result of these devastating floods will have far reaching consequences. It will take a good many years for us to get over the aftermath of this calamity and obviously that is going to require a colossal amount of funding. But as long as we receive donations from all our friends out there, we shall continue to do whatever we can.
The campaign this time began with a candlelight vigil and prayer for the victims of the Margalla air crash and the victims of the flood. This was organized by a group ofamazing young people known as the PYA or Pak Youth Alliance . After the ceremony an announcement was made regarding collection of funds for the flood victims. An SMS was sent out and soon the funds started coming in.
This time the disaster is too widespread , and so we decided to focus on Swat, particularly the areas where hardly any aid was reaching. The roads and bridges beyond Madyan have been washed away. The exact number of people stranded up there is not known, but it is known that the figure is a very large one .One of the main reasons why we chose Swat was that although our resources are limited, and we would not be able to access those areas ourselves, we knew people belonging to these areas .These are friends we made during the IDP crissrs, little realizing at the time how important a role they would be playing in the not too distant future.
One of our main contacts in Swat is Ziauddin Yousafzai, who is owner and principal of Khushaal Public School . We handed over the first lot of funds we had collected to him, with which he bought rations in Mingora and distributed them in the area around Mingora, which were badly effected by the floods.We sent a truck of rations for 100 families to Mingora , which were picked up by our contact in Bahrain and taken by helicopter. This contact is an amazing young lady called Ghazala Butt, who I met at a seminar in Islamabad a few months ago. She waited for 3 days before she could get a helicopter ride to Mingora. She works in a Child Protection Centre in Bahrain , belonging to Aurat Foundation. However, she is helping us get the goods to Bahrain in her private capacity. She insisted on coming to collect the goods herself, since she wanted to be sure that the deserving people got it. She was stranded in Mingora for 3 days due to bad weather. The biggest problem in that area is that there is no land access, and the helicopters are dependent on the weather. So it took more than a week for the stuff to get to Bahrain . Ghazala called yseterday to inform me that she was abe to distribute the food packs in her area.
We have transferred money to Ziauddin again ,and also to Zubair Torwali, who belongs to Bahrain Swat and manages the organization IBT . He writes in different newspapers,and is the one who wrote a letter titled ‘From Swat with no love’in 2008 . This was when Swat was being plundered by the Taliban, heads were being chopped off and schools were being burnt, yet Pakistanis were out on the streets protesting against the American attack on Palestine. His letter was a wake-up call for many of us, and made us realize that we were oblivious to the tragedy in our own back yard. Now he is a key figure in helping us get food to the starving people of that area.
I have tried to cover our activities so far as briefly as possible, and we will continue to keep you posted. Please join us in mobilizing your friends and relatives. Lets unite like the drops in the raging rivers to reach out and help our desperate fellow country men and women.
Distribution of 100 food packs for 100 families in Faizabad, Swat
Medical camp organised by GPC, Swat with our help in Shangla, Swat