By Andrea Pineda-Salgado
Pakistan is underwater — literally. By now, you may be aware of the torrential monsoon rains that caused severe flooding in Pakistan. These floods wiped out entire villages; around one-third of Pakistan is currently underwater and over 30 million people have been affected by these devastating floods. However, coverage of floods has dropped drastically since Hurricane Fiona made landfall in Puerto Rico and Hurricane Ian in Florida, causing widespread destruction. Even though it’s been over three months since the floods started, Pakistan’s people are still in desperate need of help. New Yorkers with family members in Pakistan are mobilizing to help their families back home.
“It’s terribly sad,” says Kanwar Ahmed of the Pakistani American Youth Organization (PAYO). “The people of Pakistan have to pay for the greenhouse effect and climate change. Pakistan contributes 1% of the worldwide fuel emissions and they are [the ones] getting hit.”
The United States is the world’s second-highest fossil fuel emitting country, following China. When these fossil fuels are burned, they release carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, into the air. These gasses trap heat in the atmosphere causing global warming and as it continues to go unchecked, it’s predicted that monsoon rainfall will become more vigorous and more erratic. Pakistan is the eighth most vulnerable nation to the climate crisis; these years’ floods were only the beginning.
Some of our neighbors in Queens have relatives and friends in Pakistan who need help. Muhammad Saif Ullah is the owner of Dera Restaurant in Jackson Heights, Queens, and from Punjab, Pakistan. While his immediate family is safe from the floods, he says he worries about his country.
“My family is okay, but the rest of the people in Pakistan are also my family and I care about them very much,” he says. “[The floods] are a huge problem, huge. I have never seen that kind of problem in my life. When I watch TV, I can’t believe how much trouble they are in. I mean, [it makes me] cry.”
What do people in Pakistan need right now?
Pakistan’s most significant need is food and shelter, as the floods washed away entire homes.
“Food is very important, they also need houses. I have many friends over there who are telling us the floods took the houses and everything is gone. There is nothing over there. Pakistan is completely devastated. Completely clean,” says Ullah.
Ahmed says PAYO has been partnering with organizations based in Pakistan. He partnered with Roshan Flood Relief, an organization started by his brother, Kanwar Raheel, to help Pakistan flood victims. To get to the flood-affected areas, Ahmed says his brother and his team had to travel by foot because the roads were inundated.
“They need tents and food. Tents because they don’t have anywhere they can sleep right now. Their homes are gone, they are only living in tents from abroad,” says Ahmed. “They [also] have no place where they can cook right now, and they are depending on what someone else is giving them.”
Ahmed recommends sending canned food, biscuits, dates or packed milk. He also says that if people send money, they should make sure it’s going directly toward organizations on the ground.
Ullah also mentioned that if you know people who have family in Pakistan, make sure you donate your money to them instead, that way, you know the money will go directly to the families affected. Most importantly, Ullah urges New Yorkers not to forget about Pakistan because the road to recovery will be long and they’ll need help for the next few years.
“This just started, but this will be a long procedure. It will not be over in one, two, three,” says Ullah. “We will need to help them in three and four years [from now] because there is nothing over there. It’s completely gone. There is nothing.”
How to help
This is a fraternity composed of NYPD officers of Pakistani descent. With the help of Helping Hand USA, they will send donations to Pakistan flood relief victims. Drop off items at your nearest police precinct. Some things needed include clothing for men, women and children, baby items such as bottles, diapers and wipes, mosquito repellents, tents, and feminine hygiene products. Check the complete list of what you can donate here and ensure all donations are sealed and/or unused.
This is a nonprofit organization with volunteers working on the ground in Pakistan. It has helped victims evacuate inundated areas, provided tents and tarps for shelters, set up mobile health units and much more. Donate money here. A donation of $25 will be enough for a food package; $90 for a tent; and $215 to provide cooked food for 250 people. Find out how much your donation will be worth here.
This foundation was founded by Pakistani cricketer Shahid Afridi. It has set up flood relief drives in affected areas to provide ration bags, tents and other essentials such as blankets and clothes. Donate money here. A donation of $38 will provide a family with a ration bag; $60 will provide a survival kit; $83 a shelter tent; and $1,000 will help build a medical tent.
Roshan Flood Relief is the organization founded by Ahmed’s brother, Kanwar Raheel.. It is based in Pakistan and in partnership with PAYO, the organization has been able to donate food and supplies to Pakistanis in need. For information on how to help, contact Ahmed via phone at (347) 768-5612.