The Block Island Times

A less happy place

By Elspeth Crawford | Jun 29, 2014

This week Block Island residents have been variously irritated and more by a Rhode Island Monthly misrepresentation piece on our island. However another bit of news landed in my mailbox, and I think that lots of those I know here, who care about community and contribute to it, are also interested in the well-being or otherwise of people in other parts of the world.

There is a very challenged place many miles East of here - Pakistan, in particular the North West region bordering Afghanistan. [Some of us may know folk who have actually been there recently].

I occasionally do some editing work to help out a wonderful Pakistani organisation called Khwendo Kor (Sisters’ Home).  From a beginning in 1993, women from the North West Territories of Pakistan have worked in their villages to address the needs of women in one of the most challenging areas of the world. Education, health, micro-finance loans, rehabilitation, whatever, the numbers who have been helped to sustain better lives now run in to tens of thousands.

The setbacks have been dire, from earthquake to Taliban death threats, and deaths, and, since 2001, the effects of the “War on Terror” against Taliban and Al Qaeda. Now, the Pakistan government has begun a long-awaited military campaign “in a Taliban-dominated part of Pakistan‘s borderlands, years after the US first demanded action”. [see reports of the offensive Guardian 15th June, and the consequent displacement of about half a million refugees, Guardian 16th June ]

Uh – oh – where KK works. Where these incredible women I have emailed, and talked with on Skype, keep going. And keep on going.

Afraisiab Khattak, a senator for the state of Bannu in this region has said:

“North Waziristan has been on the anvil for a very, very long time and the government should have been prepared for every eventuality… Unfortunately in our country we only think of military aspects of an operation and no one bothers with the humanitarian crisis.”

It is possible to give help that will reach the Humanitarian Crisis: (see below, copied from Friends of Khwendo Kor).

I wish our own BI difficulties were indeed only a badly researched and sensationalised newspaper article. We do have grief and loss that we need to attend to, and we try to do that. But, these others, on the other side of the world have troubles I find hard to imagine bearing.


Dear Supporters,

We are asking for your help in meeting an urgent appeal from Khwendo Kor (KK). In brief the Pakistan Government has launched military operations in North Waziristan, a part of the Tribal Areas where KK works and from which, as it happens, Maryam Bibi, KK’s founder and Chief Executive, herself comes. The result is a flood of refugees, no one knows how many, but certainly in the hundreds of thousands. Their plight is dire, they are moving from the cool of the hills to the stifling heat of the plains, women are giving birth and children are dying of diarrhoea on the roads, public transport is effectively absent, and private transport is iniquitously expensive. The provincial government of Baluchistan has closed its borders to refugees thus adding to the problems faced by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. According to the Guardian ( the only camp that has been set up lacks food, water and electricity.

However, there is hope. KK is working with a volunteer group in Islamabad which is raising money for them to provide an immediate practical response. Maryam has been to Bannu, assessing the situation on the ground and developing KK’s plans. KK is also in active contact with the Provincial Disaster Management Authority, UNICEF, and the disaster management Fund of the Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund, and is preparing a proposal for the US government aid programme. They have also been contacted by an influential member of Amnesty International who is in the UK and have advised him to channel any funds through FROK.

The economy and competing demands make this a difficult time for any appeal. There are, however, reasons why we in FROK should respond as generously as we can and ask our friends and families to do the same:

  • This is a top priority for KK and a chance for us to show our solidarity with them in their dangerous and essential work
  • Money for KK will be put to good use and also increase its credibility and consequent ability to leverage larger funds, and influence others to provide a combined effective response
  • KK is already working in North Waziristan which is a particularly dangerous and strategically sensitive part of the Tribal Areas. Anything that they do now to help the IDPs in their hour of need can only help to consolidate their base there for the longer term
  • There is little international press coverage of this situation. We know about it and are in a position to give a little help. Surely it is up to us to do so.

To donate:

  1. Via the FROK Just Giving website – – please indicate that your donation is for the Waziristan Appeal and whether you wish it to be a Zakat donation*
  2. Via the FROK website, and follow donation instructions, again indicating that your donation is for the Waziristan Appeal and whether you wish it to be a Zakat donation
  3. By texting to 7070 ‘FROK10£[number of pounds from 1 to 10 as you choose]’
  4. By making out a CAF or other cheque to FROK and sending to Jonathan French, FROK Treasurer, 85, East Parade, Heworth, York, YO31 7YD. If donating by cheque, please tell Jonathan by letter or email ( if you are UK taxpayer (so that he can reclaim tax) and that you want the money to go to the Waziristan appeal. Please also tell him if you wish it to be a Zakat donation

To follow what is happening:

KK will be putting up pictures and news on their website – . We will also put a link to this on the FROK website – – and Facebook page by 4th July.


* Zakat Foundation of America (ZF) recognizes that every donor supports programs in their own way. Therefore, we provide a variety of ways to donate so you can choose the one that is most appropriate to you:



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