A plea for help in Sacramento – featuring a Pakistani national icon – raised more than $140,000 Saturday for flood victims in Pakistan.
The fundraiser was billed as a lunch with Imran Khan, who captained the Pakistani cricket team to a World Cup title in 1992 and has since become involved in politics and humanitarian efforts.
About 380 people – most from the local Pakistani American community – filled a Hyatt ballroom for the event. They donated money to Khan’s foundation, which is rebuilding villages wiped out by floods this summer.
Floods affected more than 20 million people – mostly subsistence farmers who lost their livelihood, Khan said. His Imran Khan Foundation is rebuilding 100 villages with schools and health centers, Khan said.
“It was just such a huge devastation and so little response from the international community,” he said.
Those at the event watched a video of the damage and heard Khan speak about the flooding he witnessed first-hand in his ancestral village.
Many attributed the amount of money raised Saturday to Khan’s credibility.
His fame helps his cause, but Khan also has built a college and cancer hospital in Pakistan, said Muhammad Nawaz, 52, of Sacramento. That Khan says less than 2 percent of money donated to his foundation goes for administrative costs – while the rest goes directly to those in need – inspires faith, Nawaz said.
“People are relying a lot on the idea that he can really do something,” he said.
Few, if any, people at the event had relatives affected by the floods – likely because many local Pakistani Americans emigrated from different areas of the county, said Iftikhar Ahmad, former president of the Muslim Mosque Association in Sacramento. But the sight of countrymen in need makes it “our job to help them,” he said.
“I don’t know anybody affected,” said Mohammad Fayyaz, 47, of Sacramento, who said he was born in Pakistan and left at age 15. “Overall we’re all family.”