The PSA Executive team for the 2009-2010 academic year was formed at a time that undoubtedly went down as one of the most volatile phases in Pakistan’s history. As global media focused on the army moving in for its offensive against the Taliban forces in Swat, a war that would undoubtedly leave millions displaced, the concerned Pakistanis at McGill felt that some immediate form of action had to be taken. Nothing speaks louder than words; and hence, the simple idea of a letter was proposed, a letter to speak to the hearts of concerned Pakistanis and non-Pakistanis alike. The purpose of this letter was not only to shed light upon the perpetual pandemonium that encapsulates the country, but to remind the world of the humanity that still exists within the walls of what it sees as a breeding ground for terror.
An urgent PDF meeting was held on the 1st of May 2009, with almost all PSA members in attendance. The letter that had been drafted by the PDF team was presented for discussion in order to make it a more rounded view of all those concerned. After taking in the opinions and suggestions of the attendees and much debate, a final version of the letter was created. The final form of the letter has been published in various Pakistani newspapers and e-journals.
The summer semester began amidst headlines of ‘Two million Pakistanis displaced in fight against Taliban’. PSA McGill, felt it as our duty to step up as responsible citizens. With the support of all the PSA members, a three day fund-raising drive was organized on the McGill campus. A sum of almost $2000 was raised and sent to the Adal Trust, an NGO based in Islamabad that was working tirelessly to provide relief to the millions displaced, with no access to tents, food, clean drinking water and medicine. The money sent by PSA McGill alone managed to fund a truckload of supplies and provided relief to more than one hundred families. Fatima Hamid from the Trust sent us back a report on how the money was distributed.
On Tuesday, 25th of May I left early in the morning for Mardan along with Falak Naz, Nighath Haseeb and Yousaf Ahmad.
Shahida Bibi lives in Mardan and is actively involved in the relief effort for the IDPs. Shahida and her team have been invaluable in finding out about the areas that have received the least aid. Prior to my visit, I had been in touch with her on a daily basis about the needs and the problems being faced by the IDPS ways to resolve them.
The six schools we had targeted during our last visit were all along the main roads of Mardan. This was because we had a huge truck following us with the food packages etc. and [we] could not go into the smaller lanes. Therefore we decided to buy the food and all the other goods from Mardan, store them at Shahida's house and take smaller vans to deliver the relief goods to the inner city of Hoti. This proved to be a better step as we eliminated transport costs from Islamabad to Mardan.
Shahida Bibi procured the items [we required]. Besides the food parcels, we also bought pedastal fans and gas cylinders for cooking food.
The inner city of Hoti is typical of an old city of Pakistan with its narrow walk ways, with drains in the middle. No cars can go right inside. The schools and Hujras that we went to varied quite a bit. In some schools we found that quite a bit of aid had already reached them, other places seemed to be in greater need. We had decided earlier to give cash envelops as well as food parcels.
The first school that we went to was the Govt. girls Primary School in Babu Mohallah. We gave food parcels to the men of the family as well as Rs. 500 each to the women of the families. We also visited various hujras, here they needed pedestal fans, chattais etc as well as food parcels and money.
Our next stop was Jamal Ghari; [where] there were four schools. Here the situation was dire, and the women and men and children were in urgent need of assistance. We felt your donations perhaps made the most difference here. We also visited various hujras and gave money and food parcels there. We gave 1000 Rupees to each family, and where people were ill and in need of doctors or medication we increased this to 2000 rupees.
Thank you for your support and help, I hope that with the money donated by all of you and with continuing aid we can help alleviate the suffering of these unfortunate displaced people.
PSA goes beyond entertainment; it is also about coming together at a time when our country needs us the most and acting upon this need. “Reclaim Pakistan” is our effort, as PSA McGill to give back to our homeland. Future projects include a fundraiser in the Winter 2010 semester which would benefit a charity school in the ravaged Northern areas of Pakistan.
Pakistan defines us. We define Pakistan. It is time to reclaim our identity.
Visit our FB group: Reclaim Pakistan-McGill Chapter