Houstonians Come Together to Support Cancer Hospitals in Pakistan


HOUSTON: Saturday night at Omni hotel in the galleria area, the banquet hall was humming with guests, enjoying tasty Pakistani appetizers, socializing with friends from all across greater Houston, and everyone was simply thrilled to be doing it all for a good cause. Elegant Pakistani dresses mixed seamlessly with modern South Asian chic, and elegant suits, with cameras clicking, Islamic art on display – the lobby was the postcard of what Houston is all about, global, diverse, dynamic, caring and above all giving.

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The event was the fundraising gala for Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospitals (SKMH) of Pakistan. Over two decades in the making SKMH is a world class cancer hospital organization based in Pakistan. The main hospital and research center is located in Lahore, a second hospital in Peshawar and a clinic in Karachi. The project was championed by the legendary Cricket player and now a leading politician of Pakistan, Imran Khan. The hospital is named in the memory of his mother who succumbed to cancer. The hospital treats cancer patients from all walks of life without any distinction, providing free care to those who are unable to afford. The multimillion dollar budget is mostly met with generous donations from Pakistan and the rest from all over the world. Houston has been in the forefront of this effort from the very beginning. 2016 was no different – at a short notice the host committee came into action, planned an elegant fundraising gala dinner with entertainment provided by performers from Pakistan and delivered for Houstonians a sold out successful event.

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The Host committee was led by its Houston founder, Sajjad Burki and included, Dr. Fayaz Faiz, city activist and attorney Zafar “Zaf” Tahir, Businessmen Fuad Cochinwala, Atif Khan, Khalid Hasib, Publisher Sheikh Najam, fashion designer Sabeen Sultan, and many more. Over 500 guests paid $125 per person and further donated in excess of $450,000 to bring the total of funds raised to over half a million dollars!

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The program emceed by Zafar Tahir, started with recitation of Quran, and included presentation by the management of the hospital in Pakistan, a keynote speech by Fauzia Kasuri who is head of international fundraising, a vote of thanks by Sajjad Burki on behalf of the Houston host committee. However, the highlight of the evening was undoubtedly the inspirational speech delivered by Actor / Activist from Pakistan, Humza Abbasi. Humza brought the entire hall to their feet when he took a selfie with his phone of the entire crowd at the event. The 15-minute fundraising session which included auction of pieces of Islamic art and a cricket bat signed by Imran Khan brought in over $450,000 in donations. The program was followed by sumptuous dinner catered by Tempura restaurant. Throughout the dinner and even afterwards, the selfie session with Humza Abbasi continued to the utter delight of the guests, who all appreciated his humble approach and availability. After-dinner entertainment was presented by famous visiting Pakistani female singer Fariha Pervez who kept audience glued to the stage past one in the morning.