Saturday, 21 August 2010

Who cares about Pakistan?

I know I do. Obviously this has affected me personally as my ethnicity is Pakistani, and unlike Haiti, it struck a cord with me that this is my family, my own brothers and sisters being affected this time. I've done everything I can to help, yet it still feels inadequate.

Yesterday, Alhamdulillah I was given the opportunity to do street collections with buckets via Muslim Aid near where I live. It started off with a lot of waiting and briefings, then we went out on the streets which were so empty. Most people said they had no change, Allah knows if they were or weren't telling the truth. The street we were located on is like Pakistani Central; there were loads walking by but many did not want to donate or just ignored us as if we were invisible, and that was hard. We began to get desperate as we were all aiming for as many donations as possible. So we began to go into the shops and ask the people working instead of people passing by. Many were Pakistani or of south asian decent themselves and were quite generous.

We went into one particular butcher's and the comments he said impacted us all. At first, he said he'd already given and we were ready to say our Jazakallah's and leave and then he said something along the lines of:

"What you girls are doing is so great Mashallah, I've seen you walking down asking for donations, but you don't know what your boss is going to do with this money, do you?"

A sister we were collecting with replied: "well we are doing this fi sabilillah (for the sake of Allah) to gain reward, and Allah hu Alam (only God knows) what happens with the money after this."

He replied by saying: "yes exactly, that's my point. You can't guarantee that 100% of this will go directly to Pakistan. Your boss is probably taking a cut. I would give to a charity or go to Pakistan myself, and that way I am sure that 100% of the money will go to those who need it."

Whilst he was speaking, the sister began to interject with her argument that we obviously don't know what happens to the money blah blah..

His blood began to boil and he was getting so mad that she was interrupting him. He said "look I have a daughter your age, you need to respect me and listen to what I am saying."

And with that, the sister stormed out of the shop. Me and my real sister were stood there dumbfounded. Although we didn't agree with what the Uncle was saying, we were brought up to respect everyone's opinion, regardless of what it is and we knew the way to deal with such people is to just let them say their piece and then you say yours, and not interject. We both said thank you anyway and left the shop.

Although the situation wasnt handled correctly, what he said was very thought-provoking. It might have sounded like an excuse, given by a number of people reluctant to part with their cash. But it was then that I understood that this is one of the many reasons people don't seem to be generously giving to Pakistan. In comparison to Haiti or the Tsunami, the donations are meagre. But then again, I cant help thinking that if everyone thought like that man, all of the time, how would you ever give to charity without a doubt of where your money will go? How does that man give his Zakat?

Today I came across this article on the BBC news website, and it provided all the answers I've been searching for as to why no-one seems to be in a charitable mood. I think it's a fantastic article and has really hit the nail in the head with the reasons why people aren't being so generous.

This picture is taken from that article:

and it really does put things into perspective.

On a more positive note, take a look at this.

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