When the powerful earthquake struck Kashmir in 2005, it created quite a stir and array of relief arranging activities around the world. A few Pakistanis who used to own the off-licence shop on top of which I used to reside in London was among those ‘relief collectors’, who identified the call of the hour and decided to contribute to the rebuilding of their nation through that fund raising. They set up a donation box wrapped around with newspapers clippings in English and Urdu depicting horror tales of the earthquake victims in the Pakistan Occupied Kashmiri territories. Whoever came to the off-licence shop to buy bread, butter or booze, could not miss the box that cried for help. People donated whole-heartedly, sometimes they didn’t take the change in return, they put it inside the box instead. Sometimes they shared their grief and sympathy with the shop-keepers while putting out a ‘fiver’ or a ‘tenner’, a few ‘quids’ for the sake of charity and humanity. I also took my turn and donated in good faith a very insignificant amount only to realize after a week that I only bought a few bottles of beers for those soldiers of humanity and good cause. They stopped collecting the fund when they thought they have had enough, invited their friends from Wembley and Bradford, arranged a good party, cooked Mughlai food, listened to Hindi music, drank like dogs, made me sacrifice my night’s sleep and they went to sleep happy around dawn. Since then, I have a profound sense of suspicion when saviors of mankind pop up overnight to raise funds and help the ‘devastated people’ who get struck after natural calamities like floods, cyclone, earthquakes etc.
Appeal for help through designated bank accounts seem more realistic and trust-worthy, rather than sending SMSs to thin air naively believing that my aid is going to reach to the victims struck so hard by the disaster. I am very cautious so that companies don’t make use of the vulnerability of the situation on ground and make merry on my money. SOS.