17-year-old on the practical ways to help Pakistan flood victims

RELIEF EFFORT: Members of the Al-Mahdi Centre with aid boxes.	 Echo pictures by Stuart Martin. Order no: 11077463

RELIEF EFFORT: Members of the Al-Mahdi Centre with aid boxes. Echo pictures by Stuart Martin. Order no: 11077463

First published in Pakistan Floods Appeal Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Senior Reporter

AS she watched mothers and children struggle against the floods that have devastated Pakistan, Maryam Rahim decided she could not stand by and do nothing.

The 17-year-old student masterminded a flood relief aid effort that has involved Fareham’s Muslim community after she saw the humanitarian crisis unfold on television.

Maryam has spent the past two weeks ensuring over 100 boxes with basic aid get to the people affected.

She said: “Looking at the pictures of pregnant women, old ladies and children just wandering around aimlessly, it touched my heart – it made me realise we have so much and we’re so ungrateful.

“As Muslims we have been commanded by Allah to help others less fortunate than us who find themselves in this situation, which is terrible.

“The least we can do is try to bring them back together.”

The flood relief project has featured 40 volunteers, mainly young people in the Muslim community, but everyone from the elderly to children as young as five have been helping to pack the boxes late into the night at the Al-Mahdi Centre in Wickham.

The boxes contain survival essentials such as long-life milk, glucose tablets, water and non-perishable food.

Fifty boxes have already reached their destination, while another 40 are in transit and the final pick-up is set for tomorrow.

The floods that hit Pakistan at the end of July affected around 20 million people, killing 2,000 and leaving 1.2 million homeless.

With the risk of water-borne disease high and aid struggling to get to those who need it most, the United Nations has said the situation becomes more serious by the day, Maryam, who lives in Southsea, said the message was brought clearer to her because she is currently fasting during the day as is the custom during the Islamic month of Ramadan.

She said: “During the day we can actually feel the pain of those people. We get our food after dusk, but they don’t get anything to break that fast. I thought ‘What would the prophet Mohammed do if he saw what I saw?’”

People can donate at the Al-Mahdi Centre or call 01329 832537. Alternatively you can fill up a cardboard box with supplies at the Medina Mosque St Mary’s Road, Southampton, where boxes are available for £1.

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