The three-day telethon Awkum, or "Your Help", concluded on Friday night and proved a rousing success, funding fleets of aid planes and tonnes of desperately needed supplies for some 20 million Pakistanis displaced by the devastating floods. Led by the UAE's Red Crescent Authority on the directive of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, President of the UAE, the telethon brought together religious scholars, humanitarian workers, TV presenters and entertainers from around the region. Lending their support were the Tunisian pop star Latifa, the Syrian actor Wafaa al Mosali and the Emirati actor Ahmed al Jissmi.
Most affecting were televised scenes of the destruction on the ground in Pakistan. One elderly woman who hadn't eaten in four days voiced an appeal to the camera: "We have no idea when we will have our iftar or when we will find the food. God alone knows." Ramadan is the best season for giving but the needs of Pakistanis will expand into the winter for food, shelter, warm clothing, blankets and medicine. In the spring, farmers will needs seeds, fertiliser and tools before becoming self-sufficient again.
The spirit of generosity that was galvanised by the Awkum telethon will be needed again as Pakistan struggles from an initial stage of emergency aid into long-term rural development.