An Edgbaston employee who spent five weeks in Pakistan helping flood disaster victims has spoken of the devastation he witnessed and how he hopes to have played a small part on their road to recovery.
Abraham Khan – Edgbaston’s Head of Finance – visited some of the villages worst hit by last year’s catastrophic flooding which cost 1,700 lives and left more than two million people homeless.
He raised thousands of pounds for the relief effort through a combination of an online appeal and his own savings which he used to help buy food, clothing and life-saving equipment.
The 39-year-old, who’s worked at Edgbaston for nine years, helped establish water purification systems so communities could access clean water and spent time working in schools for homeless children.
“The welcome we received was truly humbling,” said Abraham.
“Through the tragedy we still came across many smiling faces. People seemed to take comfort simply knowing we cared, that we’d travelled over to do whatever we could to help.
“I couldn’t just look on from home and see the news unfolding. So I started to save money and raise funds. Then in February I flew out with a friend. We went out there independently, not as part of a humanitarian mission or charity.
“We flew to Karachi and then on to the wider area called Sindh which was one of the worst affected by the floods. There were places that had been completely under water for three months; the residue of water on the few remaining buildings was at around nine feet.
“We spoke to local people and officials to find how we could best help.
“One of the most important things we did was setting up a water purification system as drinking contaminated water was causing lots of ill health.
“I bought livestock for families so they could make a start getting back on their feet, plus clothing and food parcels as many people were still living in emergency accommodation.
“One man in his 80’s was living in a donated tent near where his home had been. There were only a few bricks left. We just did whatever we could.
“We also visited a makeshift school for children who’d been made homeless by the floods and who’d lost family. We bought bags, uniforms, school equipment and clothing. Without the school these children would be on the street.
“I helped teach some English lessons and played cricket with the children. Providing emotional support, showing we cared, felt as important as buying supplies.”
Abraham also spent a week in Turkey on route to Pakistan to help with the earthquake relief effort. He worked at a stadium acting as a base to collect, package and distribute emergency supplies – and also worked with big manufacturers to organise the supply of clothing.
He’s now returned to Birmingham to be reunited with his family in Moseley.
“Without the support of my family, friends and work colleagues who picked up the slack for me, I wouldn’t have been able to go to Turkey and then Pakistan,” added Abraham.
“It’s not easy for any employer to release a staff member for six weeks but I’m grateful that Edgbaston saw the big picture and how I desperately wanted to do my bit to help.
“I do feel I’ve helped. I know I’ve given people a better opportunity for their futures than they would if I hadn’t gone, donating to children’s education, buying farm animals for communities, and helping with infrastructure.
“I hope I’ve helped set the foundation to have better lives. When can you ever say that? I’d say it’s been the biggest achievement in my whole life.”