UNDP Goodwill Ambassador Qureshi Visits Pakistan Flood Victims
by Robert Davis|
Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi has stepped off the tennis court and into north Pakistan’s flood ravaged valleys. On his first mission as UNDP Goodwill Ambassador, Qureshi flew by helicopter to oversee reconstruction projects where homes made of wood, stone, brick, and indoor plumbing have been built.
“It is really overwhelming,” admits Qureshi. “You see the pictures on the television, you read about the thousands and thousands that are affected. But until you actually go there and see the suffering and in such harsh weather, it is very tough to fully comprehend.”
“You know we often get numbed by the millions of dollars needed after catastrophes like Haiti or Pakistan,” continues Qureshi. “But I was able to witness today just how valuable one hundred, five hundred and a thousand dollars can be. One thousand US dollars is what it costs to build a house here that is 400 square feet with a living room, kitchen, washroom and insulated to keep out the severe cold weather. And each house can shelter up to ten people.”
Qureshi flew by helicopter from Islamabad first to Hunza Nagar. After a meeting with villagers, he was off to the Ghizer valley where he saw the reconstruction projects there. In these regions alone over 87,000 people were displaced by floods and subsequent landslides.
“It was definitely an eye opener,” says Qureshi. “Being there among the people who went through the drama of the floods and seeing the sadness in their eyes, and the weakness. The only reason that they continue to live there is because of hope. Hope that comes from these types of projects. Had this happened to me, I seriously doubt that I could have survived a year in these types of conditions. The first priority is to give them shelter against the winter cold, which drops well below zero at night. And then we have to help them get back to their livelihood of planting and harvesting. It is not just their homes that were lost to the floods, but their fields and crops.”
“The Bryan brothers have donated to my foundation, The Ul-Haq Foundation, and I wanted to see firsthand how the money was spent. I saw five houses that were constructed in less than three weeks. I would like to thank Mike and Bob and let them know that they already have made a difference in the lives of five families consisting of forty-seven men, women and children.”