US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Bringing the Pakistan flood close to home

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Pakistan is suffering, but where is George Clooney? Has anybody else noticed that the attention to the flood in Pakistan has been minimal compared to other disasters?

Every time I've seen a Catholic News Service story on the flood in Pakistan in the past few weeks, I've posted it in hopes that our tiny little site might be raising awareness of the great needs in Pakistan. But I've seen little of the coverage of the flood elsewhere.

After the earthquake in Haiti, we were constantly inundated by charitable appeals and telethons hosted by big stars (not to say that Clooney and his pals should be responsible for drumming up donations). Perhaps it helped that it was the beginning of the year, but Americans showed an outpouring of love for their tiny neighbor.

I have yet to see a commercial telling me to text a $10 donation to the Pakistan flood relief fund, despite hearing that this disaster's impact is bigger than Haiti, the 2004 Tsunami, and 2005 earthquake in Pakistan combined.

Here, at least, is a website that can bring that impact to home--literally. Use this tool to see what the affected area would look like in the United States. Using Chicago, it looks like the area affected is larger than all of the Great Lakes combined.

I imagine that a big reason for the lack of public attention to Pakistan is its relative inaccessibility--perhaps there are fewer journalists there and they are less able to get the story out. Catholic Relief Service, as always, is a good source for reliable information, and a good place to donate money to. (Also it's good to see from that our government is responding to the needs of its ally.) 

Perhaps also contributing to the different responses is the fact that while Haiti is closely tied to the U.S. and the area the Tsunami hit includes tourist destinations, few Americans have personal connections to Pakistan. But five years ago this week, we were still struggling to realize the full impact of Hurricane Katrina. That disaster's legacy certainly teaches us to respond generously and swiftly to those in need.

As CRS reports, Pakistan's needs will continue for a long time. Let's not leave the fundraising to George Clooney. We can mobilize an outpouring of generosity through our churches. Perhaps the bishops can call for a national collection for Pakistan as they did for Haiti last winter as well.