Some of the biggest tennis stars in the world, including the number one male Novak Djokovic, have joined the relief efforts of Pakistan’s best tennis player to help feed the people affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Maria Sharapova and Indian ace Sania Mirza is one of a selection of current and former athletes who donated their signed souvenirs to the Stars Against Hunger auction.
The initiative was launched last week by double specialist Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi, who raised funds and delivered door-to-door ration packages to poor families in Pakistan suffering from the country’s partial foreclosure.
“This COVID-19 touched all of us, in all countries, so I’m just trying to play my part in the best possible way and try to help the needy, the poor and the daily bets during this pandemic, ” Qureshi, ranked 50th in the world, told Al Jazeera on Monday.
His Stop War Start Tennis foundation in collaboration with Rizq, a non-profit organization, has helped feed over 2,500 families to date in disadvantaged areas of the most populous province of Punjab.
“I feel like tennis has given me this opportunity and this platform to help these people right now and it is also a need of the hour,” said the 40-year-old. “The most important thing is compassion for humanity. “
Thank you #starsagainsthunger @Roger Federer @Rafael Nadal @DjokerNole @MirzaSania @wasimakramlive @realshoaibmalik @ shoaib100mph @StefTsitsipas @DaniilMedwed @GrigorDimitrov @jahangirkhan @amirkingkhan @ SarfarazA_54 #shahbazahmed fr ur signed souvenirs pic.twitter.com/H9CSDFl26t
– Aisam ul Haq Qureshi (@aisamhqureshi) May 12, 2020
Anglo-Pakistani boxer Amir Khan, Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik, former fast bowlers Wasim Akram and Shoaib Akhtar, and international squash legend Jahangir Khan also participated with gloves, a shirt, a ball, a helmet and a signed racket respectively.
The online auction, which ends on May 24, aims to raise up to $ 220,000 to support 10,000 families.
Tens of thousands of workers and other workers in Pakistan lost their livelihoods during the pandemic, which is testing the country’s poor health infrastructure and struggling economy.
More than 42,000 people have been infected with the coronavirus in the South Asian nation of 220 million people, but the death rate has remained relatively low with 903 deaths.
Prime Minister Imran Khan reiterated that his government has chosen a strategy for implementing a targeted and progressive lockdown to “balance the need to save people from the crown[virus] and continued economic activity. “
“It was not easy,” Qureshi said of the situation in the country.
“There are more people affected by hunger than COVID-19 itself… and in the sense that the government cannot reach every house and every family. “
As a result, voluntary aid groups and athletes intervened to support efforts to provide adequate supplies of food and other essentials for Pakistan is the poorest.
Former national cricket captain Shahid Afridi is one of them.
Thank you Kashmir. I’m really at a loss for words for the love, care and affection felt in recent days. We are there together and we will get up together. #HopeNotOut #DonateKaroNa pic.twitter.com/r0banL6UAo
– Shahid Afridi (@SAfridiOfficial) May 17, 2020
The former cricketer through his charity distributed food, sanitizing soap and other essential supplies to 22,000 families in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh, Balochistan and Kashmir administered by Pakistan.
Follow Saba Aziz on Twitter: @saba_aziz.