Mohammed Azam Khan
Early morning on October 14, Mohammed Azam Khan, director, and co-founder of the NGO Social Data Initiatives Forum (SDIF) started receiving distress calls. Over 100 colonies had been flooded overnight. By 8 am on October 14, Khan and his son Ibrahim were at Nadeem Colony with five boats and two volunteers from the Yacht Club of Hyderabad. Three months later, Azam Khan is still working to get businesses back on their feet in Hyderabad. He is helping rebuild houses in surrounding villages, where rains washed them away. In 40 villages near Doulatabad, Hathnoora, and Narsapur he is involved with the community for relief work. Warm clothes for winter are being distributed. Education is a priority, for it is the first to be impacted when incomes are affected. Azam Khan’s work continues.
Azam Khan stepped up to help people affected in the Hyderabad Floods of October 2020 (2020) by Nishat Fatima#COVIDHeroes
On October 13, 2020, Hyderabad was battered by a cyclonic depression The city recorded the highest October rainfall since 1903, flooding more than a dozen areas. Responding to distress calls, Mohammed Azam Khan & his NGO Social Data Initiatives Forum (SDIF) stepped in to provide relief.
Azam Khan discusses flood relief work with SDIF co-founder Khalid Saifullah, and Feroz Baig (2020) by Nishat Fatima#COVIDHeroes
Azam Khan (center), director and co-founder, with Khalid Saifullah (right) of the NGO Social Data Initiatives Forum (SDIF), sprang into action arranging boats, volunteers, and relief efforts; its helpline coordinated by Feroz Baig (left). The three discuss ongoing relief work at their office.
Artist Abdul Lateef Farooqui depicts the depth and devastation from the Hyderabad Floods (2020) by Nishat Fatima#COVIDHeroes
Artist Abdul Lateef Farooqui depicts scenes from the Hyderabad floods of October 13 at the SDIF headquarters in Banjara Hills.
The illustration shows water rising between four and twelve feet, inundated houses and streets, drowning vehicles, property, and stranded people on rooftops.
Azam Khan and Feroz Baig survey Al Jubail colony, where the choked waterway led to flooding (2020) by Nishat Fatima#COVIDHeroes
Surveying the damage.
Three months after the Hyderabad floods, Azam Khan and SDIF are still working to get homes and businesses in affected areas like the Al Jubail colony near Falaknuma back on their feet. Floodwaters in Al Jubail reached up to six feet as the waterway became blocked.
Azam Khan and volunteers help businesses affected by the floods, like this printing press (2020) by Nishat Fatima#COVIDHeroes
One of the businesses ruined by the Hyderabad floods of October 2020 was MS Printers owned by Mohammed Ilyas (left) in Al Jubail. At SDIF, Azam Khan (right) arranges funding while local volunteers (from left) Mobeen Khan, Mohd Ikram ul Haq, and Sheikh Zubair Ahmed help identify businesses in need.
Azam Khan works in villages around Hyderabad to involve local communities in rebuilding houses (2020) by Nishat Fatima#COVIDHeroes
Azam Khan is also working in 40 villages around Hyderabad where the heavy rains caused houses to collapse. In Doulatabad, he meets with the sarpanch K Venkateshan (second from left) and volunteer Mohammed Hashim (center) to involve the community in assessing the damage and rebuilding the homes.
In Doulatabad village, SDIF will help rebuild P Yellama's mud house that collapsed in the rain (2020) by Nishat Fatima#COVIDHeroes
As Hyderabad received its greatest October rainfall in over a hundred years, in Doulatabad village, Pilla Mulla Yellama’s mud house disintegrated. Standing with daughter Anusha, Yellama’s will be one of the houses rebuilt with the aid of SDIF and Azam Khan.
In Doulatabad village, SDIF identified families that required aid to rebuild rain affected homes (2020) by Nishat Fatima#COVIDHeroes
Extending aid out of Hyderabad and into villages like Doulatabad for flood relief, Azam Khan and volunteers identified families like Kausarunnissa and Mohammed Mumtaz, to financially support rebuilding efforts after part of their house collapsed.
Relief efforts were systematically mapped by SDIF after the Hyderabad Floods (2020) by Nishat Fatima#COVIDHeroes
As the magnitude of the destruction caused by the Hyderabad floods became apparent, SDIF systematically directed relief work in every zone of the city including rescue operations and distribution of essential kits containing dry clothes and sanitary supplies, and ration and educational kits.
Azam Khan set up a coalition of over a dozen NGOs to help Hyderabad's flood affected (2020) by Nishat Fatima#COVIDHeroes
Azam Khan set up the Hyderabad Flood Relief Coalition with over a dozen major NGOs..
..including Goonj, Youngistan and UNICEF, and raised more than Rs. 50 lakh to aid those affected by the flood.
Truckloads of clothes, toiletries, and ration were sorted into kits as part of the relief efforts (2020) by Nishat Fatima#COVIDHeroes
Khan also set up a network of collection centers for clothes and medicine for those affected by the Hyderabad floods. These were sorted and put out into kits by 500 volunteers under his supervision at the temporary headquarters in Banjara Hills.
Special school kits were created for children to replace school bags destroyed in the floods (2020) by Nishat Fatima#COVIDHeroes
As part of the relief efforts after the Hyderabad floods, SDIF also identified that children needed something to call their own. School bags had been a casualty and so school kits with bags and notebooks, pencils, and, colour pencils were distributed.
Facilitating education, from scholarships and equipment to clothes, is a priority for Azam Khan (2020) by Nishat Fatima#COVIDHeroes
Azam Khan provides warm clothes to college students at Doulatabad village.
Education is another area that Khan supports. He does everything from facilitating scholarships and providing equipment, and new clothes to going house to house in villages to have parents enroll children in school.
Asiya Ahmed Khan works alongside husband Azam in his philanthropic endeavours (2020) by Nishat Fatima#COVIDHeroes
Asiya Ahmed Khan has been husband Azam Khan’s companion in all his work including education. A naturalist, she managed flood relief efforts supervising the sorting and set creation for all the women’s clothes, ensuring everything was done hygienically.
Azam Khan’s commitment to philanthropy can be traced to his parents (2020) by Nishat Fatima#COVIDHeroes
Azam Khan credits his parents Mohammed Ashraf Khan and Mohammadi Khatoon for his commitment to philanthropic work, which led to the founding of SDIF in 2019. In 2020, the NGO provided ration during the lockdown, helped migrant workers, and set up a COVID helpline amongst other initiatives.
Rexine trader’s Sheikh Ahmed Hussain flood-affected business was identified by SDIF for support (2020) by Nishat Fatima#COVIDHeroes
One of the businesses affected by the Hyderabad floods of October 2020 was Ahmed Traders, owned by Sheikh Ahmed Hussain in the Al Jubail colony. Hussain supplies rexine used in autos and clothing accessories, and flood waters ruined the material.
Volunteers create essential kits for flood-affected families (2020) by Nishat Fatima#COVIDHeroes
After the floods, SDIF set up a collection center for clothes and medicine, and Hyderabad responded. Volunteers created essential kits that included clothing, sanitary needs, toiletries, footwear, blankets and warm clothes.
SDIF held an event to salute the valour of volunteers who waded into the water to rescue people (2020) by Nishat Fatima#COVIDHeroes
SDIF volunteers waded through neck-deep water in Tolichowki, Saroor Nagar and Falaknuma during the rescue efforts after the Hyderabad Floods. On December 27, they received certificates and medals from the Hyderabad Flood Relief Coalition to acknowledge their valour. The chief guest was human rights activist Harsh Mander, Director of Delhi-based Centre for Equity Studies.
The remains Pilla Mulla Yellama's mud house that was washed away in the October rains (2020) by Nishat Fatima#COVIDHeroes
As Hyderabad received its greatest October rainfall in over a hundred years, in a nearby Doulatabad village, Pilla Mulla Yellama’s mud house was washed away. It has been identified as one of the houses to be rebuilt with the aid of SDIF and Azam Khan.
In Doulatabad village, Fatima Begum will be aided by SDIF to rebuild her rain-affected house (2020) by Nishat Fatima#COVIDHeroes
In the Doulatabad village near Hyderabad, Fatima Begum’s house was completely washed away during the October 13 rain. The mother of two moved in into her in-laws' house next door. She has been identified by SDIF as one of the people who will receive financial and material help to rebuild.
Artist: Nishat Fatima
Nishat Fatima is a photographer and writer based in Hyderabad. Her work has been published in Saveur, The Times UK, Khaleej Times, Mint Lounge, Robb Report, Vogue, Elle, Cosmopolitan, India Today Spice, Conde Nast Traveller, Femina, Verve and The Voice of Fashion amongst others. She has also been the editor of Harper’s Bazaar India and is the author of Seriously, Sitara? (Hachette) and Suneet Varma (Niyogi Books). She is a guest faculty for fashion journalism and photography at National Institute of Fashion Technology, Hyderabad.
Project location: Hyderabad, India
#my2020hero is an initiative by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Chennai Photo Biennale Foundation (CPB) to acknowledge and appreciate the efforts of real-life heroes by sharing their stories.