Politicians Gather to Help Flood Victims
by Andrew Benjamin, Chronicle Contributor
September 2, 2010
The United States has contributed around $150 million to relief efforts in Pakistan following flooding which began in late July and continues to devastate the region. Yet, as the death toll rises and more are left homeless, the need for more money and supplies is increasing.
Last Thursday, Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) and state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-Corona) joined Mohammad Razvi of the Council of People’s Organization and Amy Paul of South Asian Youth Action at Kabab King in Jackson Heights to urge community members to donate money and supplies to reputable aid organizations in Pakistan.
“It became apparent to me that especially in this holy time for Muslim people during Ramadan, that these floods have taken a tremendous toll on the people who live there,” Dromm said.
The councilman cited a statistic that placed the number of people left homeless after the floods at 4 million. “Could you imagine the devastation it would be if half the people in New York City were without homes?” Dromm asked.
Peralta focused on the ability of Jackson Heights residents to help those in need. “Time and time again every time there is a natural disaster, elected officials in this area come together in solidarity,” Peralta said. “[We] come to send a loud message that we will work together to help.”
The group COPO is one of many that is accepting monetary donations and canned food to help the efforts in Pakistan. “People need food, people need water. They need everything,” Razvi said. “Do what New Yorkers do best. In times of tragedy we come together and support each other as one.”
Paul said members of her group SAYA are linked to the tragedy. “Our youth are very connected to their families in Pakistan,” Paul said. “They are experiencing the tragedy firsthand.” On Aug. 27, SAYA held a bake sale to aid in humanitarian efforts.
At the end of the press conference, Dromm told a personal story elucidating the difference between the United States and Pakistan. Recently, his mother was injured in a fall and hospitalized.
“My mother had a home to come to; she is not in a flood ravaged area; she’s receiving medical attention. These are the things Pakistani people don’t have access to,” Dromm said. “And yet they still have to deal with everyday type issues and they have to move forward with their lives not having the basic necessities.”
Dromm presented a check to COPO and another one to SAYA to support its bake sale.
“You don’t have to be rich to help the people of Pakistan,” Dromm said. “Donating something is the most important thing.”
While many people are always willing to extend their hand and help, one of the problems with donating is making sure the money does not wind up in the hand of scammers. “You can go to the FTC website at ftc.org to check that a charity has registered,” Perlata said. “If it hasn’t, it may be questionable.”
Those interested in donating $10 by mobile phone can send a text to FLOOD (27222).