UT Knoxville Organizations Reach Out to Pakistani Flood Victims

 

KNOXVILLE — In the wake of catastrophic flooding that has traumatized Pakistan, the International House and several student organizations at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, are calling on the campus community to help.

Outside the main square of Tauseef Mutwahir's village in Pakistan | Image courtesy of Tauseef MutwahirA benefit will be hosted from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 27, at the International House, 1623 Melrose Avenue. Money collected at the benefit will be given to the American Red Cross, which is working with its partners in the global Red Cross and Red Crescent network, including the Pakistan Red Crescent Society, to assist those affected by this disaster.

Dinner will be provided for $5 and Tauseef Mutwahir, a dentist from Pakistan working on his Master’s in public health at UT, will give a short presentation. Mutwahir left Pakistan just 15 days before his family’s village and ancestral home was flooded. During his presentation, he will share pictures of the damage sent to him by his uncle, who is still in Pakistan.

Exodus of people from Tauseef Mutwahir's village in Pakistan | Image courtesy of Tauseef MutwahirThe International House will also provide a room adjacent to the main dining area for members of the Muslim community who wish to attend to break their Ramadan fast.

Mutwahir said his homeland needs financial assistance to deal with the disaster.

The United Nations and Pakistan’s foreign minister originally requested $460 million to provide immediate food, shelter and health care for those affected by the floods. Aid that was, at first, slow to come in is now almost double that amount, but Mutwahir says it is not enough.

“I won’t even say that Pakistan can help itself,” he said. “It really can’t. We are not equipped to deal with this kind of disaster. We never were. We are talking about a third-world country that is struggling to survive.”

Standing floodwater in Pakistan | Image courtesy of Tauseef MutwahirWhen asked why he thinks people are taking so long to respond to what U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon is calling the worst disaster he’s ever seen, Mutwahir says, “If you compare the death toll to Hurricane Katrina or to the earthquake in Haiti, it’s not high, it’s 1,500 to 2,500 people; but people are displaced, and that means they don’t have homes to go back to. They have nothing.”

The floods have submerged one-fifth of the country and laid waste to infrastructure and crop land. Hundreds of people have died, 2 million have been displaced and 14 million lives have been disrupted by exceptionally heavy monsoon rains in Pakistan since July. The U.N. says that even more lives could be lost if aid doesn’t arrive soon.

Flooding along the road leading from Tauseef Mutwahir's village | Image courtesy of Tauseef Mutwahir“Though the flood waters are beginning to recede, the rainy season doesn’t end until the end of September,” Mutwahir said. “These people could see even more devastation than they do now if more rain comes.

For more information about how you can help with the Pakistan flood relief efforts being led by the International House, call 865-974-4453 or find them on Facebook.

CONTACT:

Abbey Taylor (865-974-9409, ataylo30@utk.edu)

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