Bay Area residents help Pakistan flood victims

August 17, 2010 12:25:17 AM PDT
The fear of disease is a very real threat for many of the 20 million people affected by flooding in Pakistan. The United Nations is asking for $1 billion from countries around the world to help with relief, but only a fifth of that has arrived. In Santa Clara, people are mobilizing to help.

Affan Sheikh from Cupertino says the part of Pakistan ravaged by floods reminds him of California.

"It's kind if of like being in the Santa Cruz Mountains and looking down, that whole idea that it's very beautiful. I think people in the Bay Area would certainly empathize with the area, at least physically," says Sheikh.

But now hundreds of thousands of people are simply looking for dry land and surviving on handouts. The worst flood in Pakistan's history has mobilized the largest mosque in the Bay Area -- the Muslim Community Association in Santa Clara. It is teaming up with the international charity called Islamic Relief, but they're not doing it alone.

"The Mormon church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints In Utah, we're talking to them right now to send at least 10 40-foot containers of emergency supplies worth about $3 million," said Munir Iqtish from Islamic Relief.

The Pakistani government has been slow to help. There is fear of social unrest and many at the Bay Area mosque feel it's an opportunity to help and the U.S. cannot afford to pass it up.

"If you have a government that's failing to provide for it is people, the people are going to turn to someone else, right? And who is going to fill that power vacuum?" asks Sheikh.

And right now many Muslims are fasting from sun up to sun down for Ramadan, making the relief effort more difficult.

"It's really hard to perform at the same level. So I'm sure the people in Pakistan involved with all this, this is like an extra difficulty for them," says Javed Khan from Saratoga.

Right now, monetary help is the quickest and most efficient form of relief.


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