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Change the World Friday

Friday, May 29, 2009 by Marianne Elliott

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This week I couldn’t think of anything better to do than to repeat the same message for the third week running. You can make a difference to displaced families in Pakistan today.

You might wonder why I keep banging on about Amara’s work in Swat Valley in Pakistan and why I’m so keen for us all to give whatever we can to support her. The thing is that this is a massive displacement of people. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees was reported in the Guardian weekly saying that this was the largest displacement of people since Rwanda.

Given our collective shame at the failings of the international community in Rwanda you might imagine that there was a mass mobilisation of resources to help the displaced people in Pakistan at the moment.

On the contrary even the big NGOs are having trouble raising the money they need. It is generally more difficult to raise funds for conflict-related disasters than for natural disasters. In this case it may be made harder by the fact that Pakistan is a Muslim country and is associated in the minds of many Westerners with the Taleban. But surely we can all agree that the people who are fleeing the fighting, and for that matter fleeing the Taleban, are no more to blame for this disaster than they would have been for a flood or hurricane?

Back in April the Guardian weekly ran an interview with a Pakistani jounalist about the effect that the Taleban rule was having on life in the Swat Valley.

Amara and her volunteers are working closely with the displaced people to ensure that they have control and influence over how they receive our assistance. This is essential to their basic dignity and to restoring some sense of order in a time of terrible chaos and uncertainty. Because she has also enlisted the support of the local host communities she is also able to make our money go further than it otherwise would.

If we can raise $900 (which is well within our reach) then we can pay for two meals for the whole group of displaced families in the first school. Every dollar we raise beyond that will provide another two meals.

My blog is ultimately about how we can all contribute to cultivate a more peaceful world, but in the meantime conflict still rages around us and one way to mitigate the devastating impacts of that conflict on ordinary men, women and children is to extend our hands to them in love and support.

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4 Responses to "Change the World Friday"

  1. Baraka says:

    Salaams & warm greetings of peace!
    Bless you for highlighting the Swat IDP crisis. The Amara you speak of is my high school friend and she is doing amazing work.
    I also saw this Peace Writers program and thought you might be interested.
    Warmly,
    Baraka

  2. Baraka says:

    It appears the University of San Diego Peace Writer’s link didn’t post:
    http://www.sandiego.edu/peacestudies/ipj/programs/women_peace_makers/peace_writers
    Warmly,
    Baraka

  3. amy says:

    please keep writing these posts. the ‘banging on’ that you’re doing is really important. i know that i have been paying more attention to the stories that i have read elsewhere about the situation in Pakistan. i’m sure i’m not the only one.

  4. a says:

    FYI, over the course of this month I’ve been talking to several people from Swat, who fled from Pakistan to Saudi Arabia.
    They all say there is no Taliban there. America has been bombing Pakistan since Bush’s rule. This is probably reactionary to that.
    I don’t know whether to believe the media reports anymore.
    All we can do is help our people.

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