Dear children, you must be aware that nowadays devastating floods have wiped away entire areas in many parts of our country. While Sindh and Balochistan provinces are the worst affected, the mountainous regions in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have also been badly hit. Roads, bridges, homes, schools, hospitals, cattle and crops have been washed away, leaving behind a trail of deadly havoc across Pakistan. This has caused thousands of families to be displaced, who are now forced to live under open skies or in makeshift camps across the country.
In any calamity, the worst sufferers are the children, because their young minds cannot understand the chaos and fear around them. Can you imagine their plight as they live under the open sky or in a small tent, without clean water, food, electricity, clothes and proper bathrooms?
Remember many of them had proper homes, clean beds, food on their table, books to read and toys to play with, before this tragedy struck and made them homeless.
I am sure that each one of us wants to help our young brothers and sisters who are living in such terrible conditions. The flood victims need our love, generosity and care. We have to do all that we can to show the children of Pakistan that, in this hour of need, we are thinking of them. So what can we do?
Plan the campaign
The first thing about tackling any problem is to chalk out a plan and devise a proper campaign. We need to involve our parents, relatives, teachers, friends, shopkeepers, tradesman and anyone else that we know.
Make a list of all the possible ways to raise money. Make another list, of non-perishable items that can be bought and transported easily.
Ways to raise money
These are some tried and tested ways of raising money:
• Ask every member of your household to donate some money. Contact grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins, and make them pledge some money for this worthy cause. Again making lists is very useful so that no one gets left out and you can keep track of the money you receive.
• There are books and magazines in every home that people no longer read. Ask people to donate all their used books and then organise a used books sale as a fundraising event.
• Are you skilled in a craft or hobby? Make bookmarks, hand painted cards, jewellery items etc., and sell them in school. If you frequently visit a shop or grocer, ask them if they’ll be willing to sell your stuff from their outlets.
• Does your school have proper sports teams? If so, organise cricket, hockey and basketball matches, or martial arts events between different classes or schools. The proceeds from the tickets can go the charity fund.
• Bake sales also generate a lot of money. Advertise the event well in advance so that students bring the money on the appointed day. Make sure your food items are fresh and tasty so that your sales go well.
• Senior students can divide their class in groups to collect money or dry ration.
• Stage a school play or put together an amateur band to hold a concert. Invite friends and family and sell tickets to the event.
• Take a good look around your house and inside your closets. There are always things that you have outgrown or are of no use any longer. Clothes, toys, shoes, lamps, decoration pieces and paintings are some of the things that tend to accumulate in a home. Make sure they are washed or cleaned and in good condition. Then sell them to raise money.
Another way to raise considerable amount of funds is to have a school fiesta and hold all these events simultaneously. Arrange food, flowers, toys, books and games stalls with all things collected through donations beforehand. Keep drop boxes at regular intervals so that people can give their contributions.
Be very honest and meticulous about this money.
Ways to raise money individually
• Promise your parents that you won’t insist on going out for pizza or burger this month. Estimate the amount of money that will be saved and ask your parents to donate it.
• Ask your mother to make you one outfit less this year. Calculate the amount saved and give it to charity. (But you must stick to your promise and not start badgering her as soon as the money is deposited.)
• If you have a birthday coming up or any other special milestone, you can ask relatives to give you cash instead of gifts so that you can use the money for this cause.
• Donate your pocket money and any other savings that you can easily part with.
When you have collected adequate funds, either individually or collectively, you can deposit the money with any well respected charity organisation that is already working in the region.
The Government of Pakistan has also established a flood relief fund for providing relief and rehabilitation to the people affected by the flood.
You can make a list of essential items like bottled water, milk cartons, sugar, rice, flour, tea, dates and lentils. The school staff can buy these items on your behalf and all students can pack them in neat packages for easy transportation.
It is best not to collect used medicines because people sometimes donate expired stuff. We also might not know exactly what medicines are required in the camps, so it is better leave it to the trained medical personnel. But brand new first aid kits, ORS sachets, dental kits, tents, mosquito netting, soaps, and hygiene products can always be donated.
What every child needs
While every bit of money and non-perishable food items will be of tremendous help, once again turn your thoughts towards the children living in tents and makeshift shelters. What would bring a smile on their faces? The answer is, the same things that make you happy.
When Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans in USA, an organisation called Children to Children, collected 6000 backpacks for the victims. Hundreds of volunteers, mainly students and children, participated in an all-day effort to pack and ship off the bags. We too can make a similar effort with very little money required to make another child happy.
You can start this campaign in your school. Each child can buy a small backpack or even a simple cloth tote bag, so that it is not expensive. Fill it with things that you need on day to day basis. A small toothpaste, toothbrush, soap, small bottle of shampoo, a comb, one or two books, colouring material (crayons, pencils, paints etc,) a toy that does not need cells or chargers, biscuits, juice pack, towel or bed sheet, a plastic cup and plate, and a bottle of water.
It can really create a difference in another person’s life. You can also add clothes and shoes items or any other small thing that you feel necessary. Your school can collect these bags and make arrangements for them to be transported to the camps.
Dear children, winter is just around the corner. The true extent of the catastrophe is still unknown and will only come to the surface once the water level declines in the flood-affected areas across Pakistan. The people hit by the calamity will need our help in the coming days, weeks and months. So do not limit your efforts to one time help only.
A little hard work, a passionate spirit and a keen desire to help others — these things are enough to change the destiny of a nation. So are you up for the challenge?
Published in Dawn, Young World, September 17th, 2022