By Faran Tahir

“The eyes see. The ears hear. Yet somehow, the mind struggles to grasp the full dimension of this catastrophe. Almost 20 million people need shelter, food & emergency care. At least 160,000 square kilometers of land is under water – an area larger than more than half the countries of the world. The needs are great, and this disaster is far from over.”

As the Pakistan Floods, the world’s worst natural disaster, unfolds and horrific images emerge, we cannot help feeling overwhelmed and also feeling a great sense of responsibility. 1,639 people are confirmed dead, 20 million people are displaced and at risk for disease and even death. Out of which 4 million children are at high-risk for water borne diseases. These staggering numbers just keep growing as this catastrophe keeps unraveling. To put this in context, Greater Los Angeles has 14 million people alone. If we knew of an impending disaster heading to our cities, wouldn’t we help?

I am collaborating with OPEN Chicago, a network of socially conscious executives in the Chicagoland area who are just as committed to this cause as I am. Together we are hoping to make a difference in the lives of these people. We will be reaching out to you in the next few weeks not just for your generosity in donations but your kindness and efforts in creating awareness about disaster relief.

As responsible global citizens, as Americans, as human beings we request you to open your hearts and purses. We see this as an opportunity to change the direction of a suffering nation, to show that we care and we stand with them in their desperate hour of need. So when they look back and this is a distant memory, they remember the helping hands. They will forget the politics of the times, but they will not forget their friends who showed them kindness, compassion and generosity.

I am working with Mercy Corps and Relief4Pakistan. These agencies get supplies, medicine, food and water to the local NGOs that are intimately familiar with the lay of the land. The need for immediate response and grass root efforts is tremendous. We appeal to you to donate any amount, to any organization of your choice and it will make a difference. We also encourage you to join and replicate local efforts to pack emergency relief and medical kits. This is only immediate term, Pakistanis will need our help medium-term and long-term.

I opened UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s address and in closing I leave you with his words:

“…we hear talk of so-called “fatigue”. There are suggestions that governments hesitate to contribute more to this part of the world. But let us remember: if anyone should be fatigued, it is the ordinary people I met in Pakistan — women, children and small farmers, tired of troubles, conflict and hardship. Instead of fatigue, I saw determination, resilience, the hope and expectation that they will not be alone under the darkest of skies.”

This is the time for US to act NOW.

Faran Tahir