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Pakistan families move into new homes built after 2010 Harrow flood appeal
More than 300 people devastated by floods in Pakistan two years ago have been re-housed thanks to donations to a Harrow appeal launched in the weeks after the disaster.
When the enormity of the 2010 Pakistan floods, which killed nearly 2,000 people, left millions homeless and put approximately one fifth of the country’s land underwater, became clear, then Mayor of Harrow, Councillor Asad Omar, launched an appeal.
Started with a target of £50,000, Cllr Omar told the Harrow Times last year how he was stunned when more than £70,000 was raised in just a few weeks, with more than £27,000 coming from personal donations and the rest through bring-and-buy sales and fundraising events.
Cllr Omar, and Ilyas Khan, a founding member of Harrow Central Mosque, travelled out to the country in August 2010 to choose how to spend the money, and settled on the Pattan area of the Kohistan region, which had not received any relief before Harrow intervened.
Two years on, every penny of the cash has been used to house 149 families who lost their homes in the disaster, with 35 new houses built – each named after a ward of Harrow in tribute to those who donated, with a plaque on each home.
Cllr Omar said: “This couldn’t have happened without the generosity of those in Harrow, and what better way to thank everybody than by having the houses named after their wards?
“It makes me so proud to know that Harrow is a borough that is so compassionate and giving, and I know that the people in Pakistan cannot thank them enough for their help.”
As part of the appeal's aim to help the victims to help themselves, the families levelled ground and built retaining walls for the new houses, which are earthquake resistant.
Mr Khan said: “We went and personally met people that had lost their homes. We didn’t tell anybody there about our plan at first, so we took a tour of the area and got to hear true personal accounts of people’s hardships, which were horrendous to hear.
“We wanted to identify the poorest people, who would benefit the most from our aid.
“We met one man who didn’t speak. He had lost his family and home and was too upset to do anything.
“When we showed him the home we had built for him, he thanked us – they were the first words he had spoken in months. That memory has really stuck with me. It made everything so worthwhile.”