An old mate of mine from Wrox and glasshaus days, Alessandro Ansa, now works for the admirable charity, Islamic Relief who had lots of centres in the affected area. He wrote to me, saying
It so happens that the worst affected areas are all in places where Islamic Relief has major projects – Muzaffarabad, Bagh, Kashmir. We lost one of our clinics in Bagh, and the Islamic Relief health center in Kashmir is the only one around for miles. They have already treated thousands of people. The Pakistan projects team is amazing, their projects are exemplary – they don’t just dish out food, they really work with people to lift them out of poverty. A close colleague of mine visited there last year and the beneficiaries of the projects told her, ‘we know what we’ve got to do now, even if Islamic Relief were to leave us, we would be ok’. It’s all about ’empowerment’ i.e. showing people how to work their way out of poverty.
With this earthquake, all the major mainstream aid agencies elected Islamic Relief as the “lead agency”, that is, they will all be working underneath IR’s leadership and guidance. The UK government sent a plane load of tents and blankets to Pakistan and handed the whole shipment over to IR – the whole lot has been distributed already. If you want to donate anything, small or big, I’m chuffed to recommend Islamic Relief. I don’t normally do this, but believe me, the Pakistan projects team is absolutely solid.
Like Alessandro, I don’t normally do this, either – but now more than ever, we in the West need to show compassion and fraternity with muslims in Pakistan, particularly during the Islamic month of Ramadan. Please spare a thought for the untold thousands of bereaved and penniless people and consider sending a few quid Islamic Relief’s way.