Pakistan’s worst flooding in 80 years has killed approximately 1,500 people, displaced millions more, and left one-fifth of the country underwater. In response, the Mennonite Central Committee is calling for the public’s help with relief efforts.
In coalition with the Canadian Food Grains Bank, the Christian Reform World Relief Committee, and the Presbyterian World Service and Development, the MCC is sending tens of thousands of dollars in relief to the devastated country.
“Currently we do not have any program or staff in Pakistan,” said Dan Driedger, resource development director with MCC Ontario, “but we are responding with some money for food; we’re sending relief kits over as well.”
The MCC, an international aid and relief agency whose Ontario office is located in Kitchener, has already dedicated about $20,000 in aid to Pakistan, as well as 2,000 relief kits that contain basic necessities such as soap, toothbrushes, bandages, and other items.
And those numbers are expected to rise.
“Our experience in the past is that once you get in and do a really good analysis of what the needs are, that tends to go up,” he said.
The relief kits are already on their way to Pakistan thanks to the MCC always maintaining an inventory ready to send out quickly, because, “when a disaster strikes, you can’t wait to ramp that up and put out an appeal [for supplies].”
The Canadian government recently announced it would match dollar-for-dollar all private donations made to registered Canadian charities from Aug. 2 to Sept. 12, in addition to the $33-million already committed for flood relief. That includes any donations to the MCC.
According to official sources in Pakistan, the flood, which began in late July after heavy monsoon rains caused the Indus River to overflow its banks, has destroyed approximately 900,000 homes and wreaked havoc on the transportation and communication systems, making it difficult for international aid to reach the people that have been hardest hit.
“It’s one thing to get [aid] into a good port or airport in Pakistan, but then actually trying to get out to those more remote areas, sometimes that takes a number of weeks to do,” Driedger explained.
The disaster will not end when the flood waters eventually recede: it will probably take years for the country to recover, he added.
“They’ve had their livelihoods – factories, their farms, their homes – all destroyed as well. So the rebuilding of that isn’t something that takes just a couple of months to do. That’ll be years in the rebuilding effort.”
For anyone interested in donating to MCC, Driedger said the best form of aid is a financial one. Cheques should be designated “Pakistan Flood Relief” and can be mailed to the MCC office at 50 Kent Ave. Kitchener, ON N2G 3R1 or dropped off at your nearest MCC Thrift Shop or Mennonite Savings and Credit Union branch.