The world knows Shahid Afridi as the straight-talking Pathan who has retired more times from cricket than some players play matches. Afridi is known as the man who bit a cricket ball in an attempt to tamper with it. The side to Afridi that few see is the one that causes him to be so moved by the plight of his countrymen devastated by recent floods that he toured remote districts to distribute food and medicine.
“I was devastated to see the plight of the people — homeless children, floating corpses, wailing women — after a point it became unbearable to watch TV,” Shahid Afridi told the HT from Karachi on Thursday.
Afridi had just returned from England where his team played against Australia and while he was preparing for the ODIs against England, calamity struck. “I work for the Islamic Relief Fund and have raised funds for earthquake victims before. But to see a natural disaster befall my own country and watch the pain and madness so closely sent a chill through my spine,” Afridi said.
Afridi, with help from friends, raised funds to buy food and medicine for the flood victims. “We first went to Nowshehra and from there we went to Sakkar in Sindh province (six-seven hours' drive from Karachi). People were fighting to get the first packet of food. It was painful to watch.”
“When we play these are the people who pray for our success. They pray for our well-being and safety that we can make our country proud,” said Afridi. “As a cricketer I felt it was my responsibility to stand by them in distress.”
Beyond this, Afridi has plans to host charity dinners in England and America to generate money for relief operations. “I want to buy medicines and raise money to help build shelter for the homeless,” said Afridi. “This is the holy month of Ramzan and what can be better than helping out people in need?”
Other former Pak cricketers like Moin Khan and Rashid Latif have joined forces with Afridi.