When the floods initially hit in August, Kalsoom launched a campaign called Relief4Pakistan which in it’s first phase reached a target of $150,000 in just two months. The money raised was directed to Mercy Corps for immediate relief and assistance. Inspired and enthused by people’s response, Relief4Pakistan launched a second phase with a target of $250,000 for longer term rehabilitation in an area of Rajanpur district called Bangla Ichha which consists of 4 villages. This agrarian area is one of the worst affected where 2 out of 3 households are affected.
Kalsoom humbly writes about the lessons she and her team learned along the way and the importance of listening to the local community. This has led to a “community-based approach” in which they are partnering with social innovators, donors, local and international NGOs, but at the heart of it is the perspective of the community. Going with this approach, they had to scale down or re-prioritize well-meaning but perhaps ill-timed plans for rehabilitation and social innovation and instead focused on delivering what really mattered to the community. Kalsoom writes:
The answer was unanimous. The community, most of whom are poor farmers, needed wheat seeds and fertilizer in time for the planting season. They needed to restore their livelihoods. Our team was humbled and learned a big lesson – in order to ensure sustainability, the local community not only needs to be engaged, but they also need to be listened to.
Kalsoom also makes the important point that while attention is always great at the beginning of a disaster or emergency, it is harder to sustain interest and activism over the long term. Great work is still happening to rehabilitate the people in Pakistan, but as public (and hence media) interest fades away, efforts will also dwindle. To make any lasting difference it is this challenge which needs to be taken on. Individuals like Kalsoom have taken it head on. Let’s extend our support to them.
To read Kalsoom’s article, click here.
To learn more about Relief4Pakistan and donate to the cause, visit their webpage.