Devastating footage of Pakistan drowning encourages Boston community to help flood victims return home

“It’s going to be almost impossible to visit for the next two years at least,” Noor said. “Getting those calls and seeing images of the floods washing away people’s homes and their livestock… it’s been so devastating being away from home.”

Local residents crossed a temporary pedestrian bridge after the suspended cot service was damaged by flash flooding on the banks of the Swat River after heavy rains in the Bahraini city of Swat Valley in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.ABDUL MAJEED/AFP via Getty Images

noor and khan are among the many members of the Greater Boston Pakistani community mobilizing to provide financial and moral support to victims in their home country, organizing fundraising events and campaigns to spread awareness of a nation in crisis .

But Noor said living a privileged life in Massachusetts while friends and family send videos of Swat drowning has festered a deep sense of guilt.

“It’s really hard to live here in Boston, to live the best life. … I have some friends who live on $5 or $6 a day [in Pakistan]said Noor, 28. “So things were already extremely bad, and the flooding has made it probably 10 times worse.”

Pakistan contributes less than 1 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, but is among the most vulnerable to climate change. Thirty-three million Pakistanis face relentless monsoon rains, rising glacial meltwater, and rising rivers without the infrastructure or resources to survive. The worst affected are the southern districts of Baluchistan and Sindh provinces.

Houses are surrounded by floodwaters in Jaffarabad, a district in Pakistan’s southwestern province of Baluchistan. Pakistani health officials on Thursday reported an outbreak of waterborne diseases in areas affected by recent unprecedented flooding, as authorities stepped up efforts to ensure clean water supplies to hundreds of thousands of people who lost their homes in the disaster.Zahid Hussain/Associated Press

The catastrophic flooding has spurred charities and other organizations in Massachusetts to launch local fundraising efforts. Adil Najam, dean of Boston University’s Pardee School of Global Studies, is working through The Citizens Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports the education of disadvantaged Pakistani children, to provide support to communities most affected by floods, while raising awareness of the crisis. among non-Pakistanis.

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“The extent of the flooding is such that there is no one in Pakistan who does not have someone affected by it,” said Najam, a TCF board member. “[TCF] it focuses on providing immediate relief and then long-term rehabilitation for the poorest and most vulnerable communities.”

Pakistan has not faced floods of this magnitude since 2010, when monsoon rains and the Indus River swell killed nearly 2,000 people, destroyed nearly 2 million homes and displaced 6 million people, according to a report from Yale Climate Connections. . The current floods serve as an ominous reminder of Pakistan’s growing vulnerability to climate change.

Najam hopes that TCF’s efforts to raise awareness of the floods will help non-Pakistanis understand the seriousness of the problem: this is not a Pakistan problem, it is a global climate crisis.

“It’s my fault. I caused it. You caused it. We caused it by our [greenhouse gas] emissions,” said Najam, one of the lead authors of two Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports. “Those who are suffering most immediately are those whose emissions are close to zero. … Those of us who thought that this was something that produces the future, the future is now. And it’s ugly.

A woman carrying a child was walking down a street during heavy rains from the flood that hit the city of Dera Allah Yar in Baluchistan province.FIDA HUSSAIN/AFP via Getty Images

This year’s floods have left millions homeless. Fundación Ciudadanos is working to address their most pertinent needs, such as food, housing, and medicine. Mahwash Khan, TCF’s director of marketing and communications, said the organization plans to execute a three-step relief plan in Pakistan.

TCF will provide 1 million meals to displaced families, rebuild 5,000 houses damaged by the floods, and rehabilitate flooded schools and convert intact schools into shelters, Khan said.

Canton resident Mariam Vadria spent much of her life in Karachi, Pakistan’s most populous city.

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She he fears that Karachi’s infrastructure, which is not equipped to handle such heavy monsoon rains and floods, could make the bustling metropolis habitable in years to come.

“My children will basically never be able to see the city I grew up in,” said Vadria, a mother of two girls. “It’s the city I call home.”

Displaced people sat on a tractor with their belongings as they headed to a safer place to camp after fleeing their flood-affected homes in Shikarpur, Sindh province.ASIF HASSAN/AFP via Getty Images

While Vadria donates to flood relief efforts and spreads awareness of the crisis within his social circle here in Massachusetts, his father manages flood damage to schools and homes in underprivileged areas of Karachi.

Saud Javed, from Shrewsbury, is another leader in local efforts to support Pakistanis. as president of the Pakistani Physicians Association of New England, Javed is hosting a fundraiser on Saturday, September 3 at 2 pm at the Islamic Center of Boston, Wayland with other local groups. He waits raise between $30,000 and $50,000.

Like many Pakistani Americans, Javed wishes he could offer support to his loved ones on the ground, especially after the trauma they have experienced.

“They have seen dead bodies in the rivers that pass by,” said Javed. “People don’t have a place to bury people because there isn’t even a place to dig.”

A displaced man carries belongings he salvaged from his flood-damaged home as he rows through a flooded area on the outskirts of Peshawar, Pakistan.Muhammad Sajjad/Associated Press

Pakistani students from Massachusetts universities are also coming together to support their home country. Asmer Asrar Safi, with the Harvard University Pakistani Students Association, and the other members of the club’s board are working alongside campus climate advocacy groups to educate Harvard students about the crisis through banners, posters, and social media campaigns.

Safi said, above all, that he wants his peers to understand that Pakistan needs the help of other countries because its Currently, the government is not equipped to help its own people, as relief efforts are often bogged down by bureaucracy. As a result, Safi said, Pakistanis and citizens of other countries end up leading relief efforts on their own.

“Aid management issues become very, very partisan and therefore very, very ineffective,” said Safi, who grew up in Karachi and Lahore. “[The floods are] It is not something that the Pakistani government or the state have been prepared for.”

Just one US dollar can go a long way toward helping a flood victim, Safi said, “by virtue of the exchange rate” between the US dollar and the Pakistani rupee. Local organizations that accept donations include The Citizens Foundation, APPNE, and the Harvard College Pakistani Students Association. National organizations like American Muslims and UNICEF are also raising funds.

Government officials and security personnel load relief food bags onto a government helicopter for people affected by flooding in Saidu Sharif, the capital of Swat Valley in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province on August 30, 2022. – Los Relief efforts were ramped up in flooded Pakistan on August 30 to help tens of millions of people affected by relentless monsoon rains that have submerged a third of the country and claimed more than 1,100 lives. (Photo by Abdul MAJEED/AFP) (Photo by ABDUL MAJEED/AFP via Getty Images)ABDUL MAJEED/AFP via Getty Images

Although the magnitude of the flooding in Pakistan sometimes makes him feel powerless, Safi said seeing his community come together to support each other empowers him to try make the biggest impact you can.

“Ultimately, it’s times like these that give me hope as well,” Safi said. “These are times when the entire community comes together regardless of their political affiliations, regardless of any grudges they may have with each other.”


Katie Mogg can be reached at [email protected] follow her on twitter @journalistkatie

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