POCATELLO — The Maserati Quattroport convertible hadn’t been parked in Dr. Fahim Rahim’s driveway for very long Wednesday. He had just arrived from a quick trip back home from the Salt Lake City airport.
Moss doesn’t have time to gather on this Pocatello doctor, who takes time out of his schedule helping run the Idaho Kidney Institute with his brother Naeem Rahim to spearhead numerous projects for the RJM Foundation for Humanity.
Fahim has two more projects in the hopper this year: rebuilding and improving a remote stretch of roadway in Nepal and bringing relief to Pakistani Christians who are living as refugees in Thailand.
The plight of Christians who have fled Pakistan in the face of persecution by the Muslim majority in that country came to Fahim’s attention while he was working on helping victims of massive earthquakes that devastated Nepal in May.
Fahim said as soon as his efforts to help earthquake victims in Nepal became noticed worldwide, he began to hear from people in Pakistan about the orphans and disenfranchised Christians in his home country.
The Pocatello doctor was contacted by a man who was running a church orphanage in Pakistan.
“He shared with me that some of his support was coming from a woman in medical school in California,” Fahim said.
Fahim then pledged to do what he could to help with the orphanage, which led him to contacts in Thailand where more than 4,000 Christian refugees from Pakistan are living in squalor in the Bangkok area. Fahim made a trip to the refugee camp and became friends with Christian photo journalist Shakeel Malik.
After being threatened by Pakistani authorities for trying to help Christians in that country, Malik fled to Bangkok with his wife and two children, a 6-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter.
Fahim said the daughter had suffered a broken arm and was unable to receive medical attention in Thailand. He said Christian refugees are unable to secure jobs in Bangkok and the situation has become critical.
“I sat down with the family and learned more about it,” Fahim said. “I want to bring this to light.”
Fahim said anti-blasphemy laws enacted by the Muslim majority in Pakistan have led to unlawful imprisonment for many Christians living there. He said if the U.S. is going to continue to give Pakistan billions of dollars in foreign aid, this government has a responsibility to protect the religious minority living there from human rights violations.
“The biggest thing will be to raise awareness,” Fahim said. “Pakistan gets billions from us.”
The Pocatello doctor said he has already reached out to local churches in Southeast Idaho, including The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to spark donations of food, clothing and medical help for the Christian refugees from Pakistan.
Another major project Fahim is tackling is the repair of a crucial road that connects the remote Sindhupalchowk District of Nepal to rest of the country. The 30 kilometers of mountainous road between near Yangri, Nepal
“Hundreds of people die every year trying to use that road,” Fahim said. “If we can do this it will change the lives of thousands of people.”
To raise money for the road improvement project, the JRM Foundation has become involved with the “Everest Extreme” event, which will pit three world-class mountain bikers against a rugged 200-mile course from the base of Mount Everest to Katmandu. One of the competitors for the event slated for 2016 is Rebecca Rush, of Ketchum. A link to a short film on Everest Extreme can be viewed at https://vimeo.com/124275844.
“That will definitely put Idaho on the map,” Fahim said.
Fahim himself will participate in the Katmandu Bike Festival to kick off fundraising for the road project on Nov. 21.
“It will be a big downhill competition,” Fahim said.
When asked if he thought he was spreading himself too thin with all his JRM Foundation humanitarian efforts, Fahim had a simple response.
“Somebody’s got to take the first step,” he said. “You only live once and I can only try.”