01/11/2005, 00.00
PAKISTAN
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Outpouring of compassion for tsunami victims

by Qaiser Felix
Christians and Muslims march together going from door to door asking for donations for those who have lost everything.

Islamabad (AsiaNews) – An outpouring of sympathy for tsunami victims is touching the whole of Pakistan. There is almost no family that is not trying to make a contribution, big or small as it may be, to help the people in the hardest hit areas.

The Pakistani Church, NGO's, welfare organisations and government bodies are raising funds for the affected people and are trying to help those left homeless and destitute.

Print and electronic media are also playing a positive role in the aid effort.

The unprecedented devastation of tsunami has not only killed thousands of people in Asia but has divided countless families leaving behind tears, diseases and despair. But at the same time, it has softened the hearts of people in neighbouring countries and around the world. Solidarity generated by the event has brought people together irrespective of their wealth, caste or religion.

Yesterday in Gojra, a town some 60 km from Faisalabad, Christians and Muslims organised a fundraising walk for tsunami victims.

The walk started from Gojra's Sacred Heart Church and reached Jinnah Park where an aid camp had been set up to collect donations.

Hundreds of Christians and Muslims took part in the walk along with school children holding play cards and banners.

The walk was lead by Fr Shafiq Hadayat, parish priest at Gojra's Sacred Heart Church.

Saif Ullah Cheema said "if we can travel a lot for our election campaigns, we will also go door to door and shop to shop to collect the maximum funds for tsunami victims."

Fr Bonnie Mendes said people "should give as much as they can [and provide] their full support."

He told the people that Catholic and Protestant Churches had already sent a joint medical mission to Sri Lanka adding though that "it's not good enough and we have to do a lot more for the victims."

Father Bonnie told AsiaNews that nuns from the Convent of Jesus and Mary are also playing an active role and "had already donated 10,000 rupees (€ 130 or US$ 100) for tsunami victims." 

Mian Muhammad Twakali, an old social worker, who was so moved by the occasion, said: "It's the first time in the country's history that Christians and Muslims are working jointly to help others abroad."

He stressed that to "help the needy is a thousand times better than to say prayers and fast, so do it now and God will bless you."

Fr Shafiq Hadayat thanked God because "Christians and Muslims have joined hands in a common effort" and all the "participants for their active presence at the walk".

He told AsiaNews that "Christian and Muslim NGO's and welfare organisations in the city are fully cooperating" in the fundraising drive. So much so that by the "15 of this month we will have raised 300,000 rupees (€ 4,000 or US$ 5,400) which we will directly send to the victims through the Church."

Father Shafiq ended telling his audience that "our campaign will continue after 15 January".

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