Kyrie Irving makes clean water a reality in Pakastani village

Fans (and some media) have tried to paint Kyrie Irving as a villain and a malcontent in corners like Boston and Cleveland, but the Nets star is being quietly hailed as a hero in others, where his philanthropy is changing lives.

His latest effort — a solar-powered water plant in Rohal, one of Pakistan’s poorest villages — will do exactly that, providing water and electricity to those in need. It was built by the Michigan-based Paani Project with help given through the KAI Family Foundation.

“Very few people ever even want to help out people in Pakistan and if you’re part of the Pakistani diaspora you know this,” Paani founder and chairman Sikander ‘Sonny’ Khan told the Post.

“That’s why to have somebody like Kyrie Irving with his platform and responsibilities taking the time to learn about an issue that impacts so many people in the midst of his season. How he still took the time to hear and support – something that very few people do – it’s just heartwarming.”

Irving has been a lightning rod, largely due to his strong political views; but the Nets star has a long and undeniable history of philanthropy. He’s funded food banks during the coronavirus pandemic, donated a million pieces of PPE to his late mother’s tribal reservation, paid WNBA players while their league was shut down, and bought a house for George Floyd’s family.

Khan, an NBA fan with Pakistani roots, watched and admired Irving from afar, partly for his game but perhaps more for his charity work and activism.

“I’ve always grown up a huge NBA fan,” Khan told the Post. “I loved watching the players, learning their stories, following the moments on the court, but much bigger is how they continue to be the best role models and inspirations off the floor. So the thought of working with one of your favorite athletes was more of a dream than something you’d think would be real.

Kyrie Irving partnered up with the Paani Project to build a water plant in Pakistan.
Paani Project

“I’d always wanted to work with Kyrie because I knew that he cared about this space. A lot of his work is focused on creating self-sustaining communities and ensuring families who are often overlooked, feel heard, inspired, and powerful.”

Rohal is in Tharparkar, one of the hottest regions on Earth, which has suffered from a 17-year drought. Women and children have had to travel a mile or two in the desert by donkey or on foot for accessible water, and often getting injured on the trip. At night, walking without lights, there is the threat of rattlesnakes.

Irving’s generosity will help over 1,000 villagers, providing access to clean and accessible drinking water that can also help with farming In addition, the plant will provide electrical power for lighting and fans at local schools and mosques and help a small farm. The lighting can help kids study at night, and of course, avoid the snakes.

“I think from a background perspective we saw some connections — Kyrie has native American heritage and his family is from the Standing Rock Sioux tribe,” said Khan. “There’s a lot of intersection between the struggle of the water access for the people of the Sioux tribe and the communities we serve — so I know he truly understands this importance of water access.”

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