Calls for help increase as floods continue to devastate Pakistan

·4 min read
Volunteers with the Calgary-based organization House of Dreams were in Pakistan when the floods went from bad to worse. They've been delivering food, water and basic necessities to the victims. (Supplied by Mohammad Farhan - image credit)
Volunteers with the Calgary-based organization House of Dreams were in Pakistan when the floods went from bad to worse. They've been delivering food, water and basic necessities to the victims. (Supplied by Mohammad Farhan - image credit)

Mohammad Farhan found himself in the middle of a climate crisis on an annual trip to Pakistan last month.

The 33-year-old Calgarian was visiting one of the multiple orphanages he operates across that country through his organization, House of Dreams.

His team was on the ground in the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa when floodwaters started to rage through the region.

"We had to stay there three nights and I didn't want to stay because my mind was clicking and [telling me] don't stay, don't stay, and my staff [were] like no, we got to stay," said Farhan.

He said he ended up leaving — and three hours later, disaster struck.

"We found out the flood came … the whole team was there, all the volunteers. So they managed to take a lot of families," Farhan said.

"But some kids, some tourists from Pakistan that were travelling … they drowned. And a lot of houses, lots of hotels, lots of buildings went underwater, we saw when we were leaving the area."

Historic floods

Since June, an unprecedented monsoon season has affected all four of Pakistan's provinces. It triggered flash floods across the country that have impacted 33 million people, leaving them without electricity or water.

The situation has prompted Farhan and his team of 30 volunteers to shift gears and start rounding up and delivering supplies to remote and hard-hit areas.

"They don't have clean water, they don't have food, they don't have shelter, and around the corner is winter. So if we don't get them in a safer tent, in a safer place ... I don't think we're serving the humanity," he said.

Even though he has now returned home — to his full-time work as a contractor in Calgary — Farhan is still encouraging Calgarians who would like to help to get involved by contacting his non-profit, House of Dreams, through social media.

And he isn't the only one.

More ways to help

In a recent interview with CBC News, Kohawar Khan highlighted the efforts that locals have put together to help the flood-ravaged country and the millions who have been impacted.

She works with Islamic Relief Canada in Alberta. That organization is part of a humanitarian coalition organized by the Government of Canada to raise and distribute funds.

Fayaz AzizAziz/Reuters
Fayaz AzizAziz/Reuters

"Islamic Relief's presence on the ground in Pakistan dates back to 1992 and they have been active in providing support for the Pakistan community as a whole for some time. We have livelihood projects, orphan sponsorship, we were very active during the earthquake in Kashmir.

"Islamic Relief Pakistan with the continuous presence and district offices in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, and Sindh were able to begin their response to the floods before it had it mainstream media," Khan wrote in a Facebook post.

"We are very proud of the team on the ground that is providing life saving aid and planning further for what rehabilitation looks like."

On Sunday, Islamic Relief Canada hosted — in collaboration with the Sikh community — a fundraising dinner where all the proceeds went to Pakistan.

Khan said they raised $275,000, which will be used for both short-term and long-term solutions, including the rehabilitation of homes and livelihoods.

"So many people's livelihoods don't exist [anymore] because they were in kind of the business of farming and stuff," she said.

According to Pakistani's ministry of finance, more than 18,000 square kilometres of agricultural land has been wiped out. It is estimating the country will need at least $10 billion to rebuild and rehabilitate all those affected.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the federal government will match donations to the humanitarian coalition in response to the flooding.

He said every individual donation will be matched, up to a maximum of $3 million, until Sept. 28.

"Even if you're not able to donate, just raise your voice. you might be able to get somebody else to make a donation," said Khan.

"A donation comes in many forms, and word of mouth is a great thing. So I encourage everyone to maybe hold back on a cup of coffee, or hold back on an expense that they may have, so people [in Pakistan] can get their basic necessities."