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September 14, 2010

Asma Mahmood can’t understand why there hasn’t been more urgent support for the victims of the Pakistan floods.

So the Mississauga resident decided to organize “Tents from Toronto,” a drive to collect 1,000 tents from GTA residents to help provide shelter for the estimated 20 million people left homeless in her native country. The tents have reached Rawalpindi and Rotary Club of Rawalpindi will be distributing them to the Flood Affected People.

“For me, I thought it was the easiest thing to do. Shelter is an immediate need, and this 
is something we can dig out of the house,” says Mahmood, who has been coordinating with the consulate general of Pakistan and with Pakistan International Airlines to ship the tents free of charge.

Much of Mahmood’s organizing has been through Facebook, which has listed locations to drop off the tents, as well as links to places where cheap and second-hand tents can be purchased.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Sunday in a visit to the country that the flooding in Pakistan was the worst disaster he had ever seen, and urged foreign donors to speed up assistance.

The UN has appealed for $460 million in emergency aid for the country, but only 20 per cent has been given.

“I am very much concerned,” says Khalid Usman, a member of the Canadian Friends of Pakistan, which organized a fundraising dinner in Thornhill Sunday night with the International Development and Relief Foundation.

“We know and (the government) knows that that’s not enough. We need more,” he says, referring to the announcement Saturday that Canada would offer an additional $31 million in aid to Pakistan.

Usman says he would like to see the Canadian government match every dollar donated by the Canadian public for flood relief efforts.

In the meantime, both Usman and Mahmood hope all Canadians consider donating their time or money for the Pakistan flood victims in the wake of such sluggish support.

“A better Pakistan, a more solid Pakistan, is a guarantee for stability and progress in that entire region,” says Mahmood. “The individuals of Pakistan are a wonderful people. Do it for them.”

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We meet every Monday at 6:00 pm at Pearl Continental Hotel, Mall Road, Rawalpindi. You are invited to attend our meeting.
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