Pakistan's Harsh Winter Softened by Care Packages from HAF and Sewa International
Washington, D.C. (March 20, 2014) - Global climate change means Pakistan's floods are expected to be an annual occurrence, wreaking disaster for a nation already gripped with poverty and violent religious extremism. Last year's flood season preceded record low temperatures this current winter, exacerbating the inhabitability of homes in the region. In response to a growing humanitarian crisis, the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) and Sewa International jointly funded a grant to deliver care packages consisting of basic food items, sweaters, and blankets to afflicted Hindu families in Pakistan.
"We are very grateful to be of service during a particularly stressful time in the lives of these minority Hindus in Pakistan," said Prof. Sree N. Sreenath, President of Sewa International. "A little assistance will go a long way in helping them get back on their feet after such a disaster."
The Hare Rama Foundation, a Pakistan-based non-profit led by Ramesh Jaipal, delivered care packages to over 650 families in the Rahim Yar Khan, Cholistan, and Bahawalpur districts of Punjab as well as the Ghotki and Khairpur districts of Sindh. "We thank the Hindu American Foundation and Sewa International for providing our vulnerable community with the resources needed this winter," said Jaipal.
"So many families have become increasingly susceptible to Pakistan's economic woes as well as harsher climate conditions. I cannot describe the joy on the faces of mothers able to feed their children and men who can better brace the winter winds while working in the fields or brick kilns."
Recent media reports have uncovered discriminatory practices regarding relief efforts by federal authorities in the Sindh region for a drought situation. Some have claimed that while excesses of meat and meat-based products were distributed by government aid centers, which many Hindus refrain from consuming, lentils and vegetables were intentionally limited leading to deaths caused by malnutrition. HAF's human rights report in 2010 documented the refusal of private organizations providing aid to Hindus during the worst floods in recent history. This season's floods and winter have claimed over 100 lives and innumerable homes.
"Hindus are particularly vulnerable when natural disasters hit Pakistan. They're are often exploited based on their minority status and impoverished conditions," said Samir Kalra, Esq., HAF Director and Senior Human Rights Fellow. "Hindus are often exposed to ruthless conversion tactics by fundamentalist clerics and private organizations, or just refused aid altogether. We hope that our small contribution will ease the burden of these families during the rehabilitation."