When Farhanna Khan left Hamilton for Pakistan around the start of August, she had no idea she would see floodwaters ravaging the buildings in front of her.
But that was his reality on August 24, two weeks after he arrived in the country.
“I never thought I would see what I did,” she told CBC Hamilton in a phone interview Wednesday morning.
Khan, who teaches in Hamilton and lives near Grimsby, Ont., said she traveled to Pakistan with her family to see relatives but also to continue the efforts of her non-profit organization IMWell.
There she gives children care kits with hygiene products and has raised funds to help build a toilet at a local school.
WATCH: Pakistan desperate for help due to disastrous floods
But it came amid unprecedented flooding that has killed more than 1,150 people and destroyed or damaged around a million homes since mid-June.
The United Nations on Tuesday appealed for more than $160 million in emergency funding, calling it an “unprecedented climate disaster.” Climate lawyer Sara Hayat told CBC As it happens earlier this week the floods were “catastrophic” and both a humanitarian crisis for Pakistan and “a climate crisis for the world”.
Canada recently donated $5 million.
Local organizations across the country, including in Hamilton, are raising money to try to help people in Pakistan.
“We were all praying”
Khan said she arrived in Mardan, a town northeast of Islamabad in the north of the country, to do some non-profit work. She then went to visit the district of Swat, further north.
It was then that she saw troubled waters filling the buildings in the area.
“It was kind of scary to watch…we were all praying,” she said.
Khan was up high and said she was relatively safe, but most other places weren’t so lucky.
“The markets were flooded… some people just lost their homes,” she said. “It’s heartbreaking.”
When the rain cleared, Khan visited families below, saying she was giving some people all the money she had.
Hamilton groups raise funds
Back in Hamilton, Jawad Chaudhry, vice-president of the Jinnah Cultural Society of Hamilton, is organizing a fundraiser to support Pakistanis.
He said he was worried about the long-term effects of the flooding, such as starvation from destroyed crops, destruction of waterfront properties and damaged infrastructure.
“We have sleepless nights because we know how affected people are,” he said.
“Even when we decide to do something as simple as buy backpacks for school for my kids, I think twice now, ‘should I spend that money on them or should I do my best to maybe put some money in to help someone in pakistan right now?'”
Chaudhry said there were no concrete plans for a fundraiser yet, but things were underway.
CBC Hamilton contacted local mosques to inquire about other fundraising efforts, but did not immediately respond.
Khan said her family had returned safely to Mardan and she was returning to Canada on Friday.
She said she hoped communities around the world would come together to help Pakistan.
“It’s heartbreaking…they need help.”