By Lisa Fernandez

The Mercury News

Article Launched: 02/13/2008 07:55:15 AM PST

A star from Pakistan’s national cricket team will speak Feb. 23 in San Jose about the devastation he witnessed in his home country following a cyclone in July that left thousands homeless.

Shahid Afridi, a popular batter and high scorer on the Pakistani cricket team, is visiting six cities this month to raise money on behalf of Islamic Relief, a national charitable organization with offices in 24 countries.

Afridi is hoping to tap into the pockets of Silicon Valley donors who will contribute a total of at least $150,000 to rebuild homes and sanitation systems, as well as distribute food and hygiene kits, specifically in the province of Baluchistan, which was severely damaged by the cyclone and flooding last summer.

Islamic Relief spokesman Munir Iqtish of Sunnyvale said 400 guests can attend the event. The cricket player, who was born and lives in Pakistan, will kick off his national tour in Dallas on Feb. 15 and travel to New Jersey, Chicago, San Diego, San Jose and Anaheim.

Since 1992, Islamic Relief said it has raised $70 million in aid for Pakistani earthquake victims; $20 million of that came from the United States. Iqtish said his humanitarian organization received the highest rating – four stars – by Charity Navigator, an independent tracking firm. The organization also sends out reports to donors seeking information as to where their money is going.

IF YOU’RE INTERESTED in attending the Pakistan Cricket Dinners, the events will be taking place in the following cities:  Dallas, TX, New Jersey, Chicago, IL, San Diego, CA, San Jose, CA, and Orange County. Please click on www.irw.org/pakistan, or call 800 617-7238  for more information.

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