TORONTO, Aug. 30 /CNW/ - A GTA-based grassroots campaign, Hope for Pakistan, announced its launch today in an effort to create awareness and raise donations following the devastating flooding that hit Pakistan in late July this year. The campaign has been motivated by the Canadian government's dollar-to-dollar matching commitment. "We were pleased with the federal government's announcement and felt the responsibility to let others know in order to maximize its outcome," said Sadia Qureshi, Hope for Pakistan's Executive Associate Director.
Running until September 12, 2010, the last date by which donations will be matched, the campaign will drive donations through its website (www.hopeforpakistan.ca). Its growing team of forty plus volunteers will also target high-traffic commercial areas frequented by the GTA's South Asian community, such as grocery and clothing stores. "We will be wearing orange t-shirts, and will be placing orange posters and donation boxes in many of our favourite local spots, so look out for us," said Saira Sheikh, also Associate Executive Director of the campaign.
According to the 2006 Census, Pakistan is the third largest source country of newcomers to the Toronto area. Pakistan's national language, Urdu, also experienced the largest growth in Canada of all non-official language mother tongues, from 87,000 in 2001 to 156,000 in 2006. South Asians also form Canada's largest visible minority community. "We are confident that through a proactive approach, members of our local communities will come through, if even by donating a few dollars each. In Pakistan, one Canadian dollar can feed a family of four for one day so it is no understatement to say that your dollar will really go a long way," said Qureshi. Key GTA-based media and businesses have committed to spreading the word and will be featured at www.hopeforpakistan.ca.
Matching commitments made by the federal government in response to global disasters apply only to donations given to registered Canadian charities. Given the need to act within the period of the government's commitment, Hope for Pakistan chose the Canadian Red Cross and Islamic Relief Canada as the conduits to their mutual cause. "Every minute is crucial, as instances of fatal water-borne diseases and other preventable circumstances are sweeping over many of the approximately 20 million displaced victims, particularly in Punjab and Sindh provinces," said Qureshi.
The Canadian public's aid response has been far less than expected, even in light of the United Nations confirmation that the floods have affected more people than the Southeast Asian tsunami and the recent earthquakes in Kashmir and Haiti combined. This has been attributed, in part, to an image deficit facing Pakistan. Hope for Pakistan's website includes photos of displaced Pakistanis, taken by local relatives and friends. These are in an effort to show real images of victims, complementary to the media's efforts, in order to help alleviate Pakistan's image deficit. The website also features an official campaign song that aims to do the same.
"Given Canada's outstanding reputation in providing international disaster relief, we were saddened by the Canadian public's response to the floods since concerns that may be hampering aid to Pakistan have absolutely no direct link to the vast majority of Pakistani women, children and men," said Qureshi. "We understand that there are elements out of our control at play, but our team believes that this crisis begs to be seen through more of a humanitarian lens when the World Health Organization itself has concluded that there are at least six million people in need of life-saving assistance."
Please visit www.hopeforpakistan.ca.
SOURCE HOPE FOR PAKISTAN
For further information: For further information: Sadia Qureshi, Associate Executive Director, Hope for Pakistan, 416.823.8978, firstname.lastname@example.org