I’ve been avoiding the news lately. Its wrong, I know, but I did not want to wrap my mind around what happened, what is happening, what will continue to happen for years to come in my ancestral country of Pakistan. The floods. That have killed, displaced, injured, and devastated millions. I avoid it because what can I do? Donate? Sure, and I will. But this money isn’t reaching the victims. At least not yet. And besides that, what can I do? So I’ve avoided it. I read the headings on my yahoo news and I continue on my day. Until today when K was watching the nightly news and instead of leaving the area I watched. I watched people boating over what was once their homes. I watched as they showed a two month old baby girl who drank dirty water and will soon die. She was beautiful. Long lashes and chubby cheeks. Her mother and I were both pregnant at the same time. We both had dreams for our babies. We both went through labor. We both held our children and felt a fierce love unparalleled. Yet her daughter will die. What separates me from her, my son from her daughter, save the luck of circumstance. And now I can’t stop crying. Now the tears downpour torrential with sadness for her and frustration that I cannot do anything. I sit in my air conditioned house watching on my flat screen television the devastation of which I can do nothing to prevent. I hold the warm soft body of my baby and how many will be burying theirs tonight? I can cry, but what good are these tears?
And this is why I avoid these stories, because they hurt and there is nothing I can do to fix it. And yet- today I realized I must watch and I must read. I must feel the pain. Practically, it will do nothing to improve their situation but at least their pain mattered. If you are considering giving your zakat during this holy month of Ramadan to the flood victims, Edhi Foundation, Islamic Relief, and Human Development Fund are organizations that have in the past effectively worked on providing direct aid to the affected. Another suggestion some imams have also given is, in lieu of hosting an iftaar for your friends and family this year, take the money you would have spent and send it to the flood victims. **Ash also pointed out that you can text to certain organizations who will in turn provide $5-10 towards flood victims for each text, a link of these organizations is here. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, donations to these victims are staggeringly less than any other disaster in recent history. I’d like to hope prejudice is not the reason but it makes it even more important for those of us who care, to give and do what we can.
The United Nation’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) stated that the flood disaster had eclipsed the scale of the devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the 2005 earthquake in Pakistan and the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti combined. About 14 million people have now been affected by the flooding, and about 1,600 people killed. Both figures are expected to rise in the coming days. Pakistan’s federal flood commission estimated that 300,000 homes have been destroyed or seriously damaged so far and 2.6m acres (105,000 sq km) of croplands submerged. Six million [of the 14 million affected] are children and 3 million women of child-bearing age. This is a higher figure than in the 2005 south Asia tsunami,” the UN’s humanitarian affairs co-ordination office said. [source: HDF]