‘It is simply devastating’: Saskatoon Pakistani group coming collectively to assist flood-ravaged nation
As roughly one-third of Pakistan is submerged under water, Saskatoon’s Ali Ahmad has trouble comprehending describing the crisis.
“Devastated. I mean, if there’s just one word to explain it, it’s just devastated by the loss of the lives, of the livestock, of the property. Just seeing the fellow countrymen, just hearing all this trouble caused by the floods. It’s just devastating,” Ahmad said.
Ahmad, the general secretary of the Pakistan Canada Cultural Association, is the only member of his family not living in Pakistan. Although his family is in a region not underwater, he says the flooding is affecting the entire country, no matter where you live.
Ahmad understands this is nothing new to the region. He remembers when Pakistan was flooded in 2010 and how widespread the damage was then. Now, he thinks of the effects climate change is having on the flooding, which has been caused by record monsoon rains.
“We must remember that Pakistan is home to the world’s largest glacier system outside of the North Pole. It’s responsible for one per cent of carbon emission, but it’s the eighth most vulnerable country to be affected by climate change.,” Ahmad said.
Rain has also washed away roads, crops, homes, bridges and other major infrastructure.
More than 15 per cent of the country’s population – or 33 million people have been directly impacted by the flooding, which satellite images have shown how an overflowing river has turned into a 100-kilometre-wide inland lake.
Mateen Raazi felt helpless as he watched images and videos from Pakistan pour in since flooding began in June as recognizable landmarks are washed away or submerged underwater.
“It was almost a numb feeling. It seemed almost unreal, to see the places that I grew up in to see people that I grew up with and memories of childhood, and the whole landscaping so altered,” he said.
“Today if it’s Pakistan, tomorrow it could be any place, including Canada. Global climate change is affecting all of us and none of us are unaffected.”
Both Raazi and Ahmad say the world coming together to support Pakistan is the most uplifting aspect of the crisis. Raazi’s family has told him of people donating and buying food, tents and clothing en masse for people displaced by floods.
“I think it’s a testament to the human spirit that we find common ground in times of disaster especially. Hopefully, we can build on those bonds for what is sure to be a long haul in Pakistan.”
According to figures from the United Nations on Tuesday, more than 1,100 have died from what it described as an “unprecedented climate catastrophe.”
In Saskatoon, Ahmad said members of the Pakistan Canada Cultural Association plan to be at all five mosques in the area collecting monetary donations.
Anyone looking to help out can also head to any SARCAN location and contribute their recycling money using the Drop and Donate function under the group’s phone number, 306-249-0010. More information can be found on Pakistan Canada Cultural Association’s social media pages.
Fundraising dinners and other events are also being organized by various local organizations to help send as much money as possible to Pakistan.
“It’s just leaving us clueless as to what to do so right now. The right thing to do would be just step out, do whatever you can do donate to any organization of your choice, and make sure that you are participating in helping the humans in need,” Ahmad said.