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Page last updated at 08:34 GMT, Wednesday, 18 August 2010 09:34 UK
Gloucester Pakistanis rally to help flood victims

Nasreen Akhtar
Nasreen Akhtar is helping flood victims in her home country

Gloucester's Muslim community is co-ordinating a neighbourhood aid effort to help victims of the devastating floods in Pakistan.

Their fundraising efforts are being supported by Hindu and Sikh groups as well as the city's white community.

Nasreen Akhtar, one of the organisers, was born in the flood-ravaged Punjab. She said: "The television and online photos of what's happening in Pakistan are just heart-breaking.

"It is many years since I left Pakistan to live and work in England, but I could not stand by and do nothing. My brother and two sisters still live there and my home city, Rahim-Yar-Khan, is surrounded by villages which have been completely submerged, leaving people with absolutely nothing.

"There aren't even enough boats to get help to the survivors so people from the city are swimming out to the villages carrying food on their heads so they don't starve.

The area that's covered by flood-water is around the size of the whole of Britain.
Nasreen Akhtar

"It is a desperate, desperate situation out there. You get an idea of the destruction when you realise the area that's covered by flood-water is around the size of the whole of Britain."

Nasreen, her family and friends have organised two "bring and share" fundraising meals at Colwell College in Derby Road. They have also been granted permission by Gloucester City Council for street collections in the city centre on August 18 and 26, and door to door collections.

Nasreen said: "We are in the middle of Ramadan and people usually like to stay at home in the evening to break their fast, but we had nearly 200 people to the first evening. Hindus and Sikhs and white people have supported our efforts as well as Muslims.

A third and final fundraising evening will be held at Colwell College on September 18 to mark the end of Ramadan, for which restaurants in the Barton Street area will be providing the food for free. Anyone is welcome to join the community meal for a donation.

All the money raised will be sent to EDHI International, a Pakistan-based charity which is now the country's largest welfare organisation, providing medical aid and emergency assistance.

Nasreen said: "We raised £39,000 in Gloucester for victims of the 2005 earthquake in Pakistan.

"I would like to hope that people will be equally generous to help the millions of families who've been affected by the floods - especially as many local people were badly affected themselves by the Gloucestershire floods in 2007, so will know what it's like to see their homes under water."

Anyone who would like to donate or help with the fundraising effort can contact Nasreen on 07823 553909.




SEE ALSO
Pakistan's desperate situation
11 Aug 10 |  The Hub
Pakistan's floods from the air
12 Aug 10 |  South Asia


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