Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Return of the Queen; YourTime Interview;A YEAR ON FROM THE EARTHQUAKE IN PAKISTAN, JEMIMA KHAN IS BACK TO CHECK ON THE AID EFFORT

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Return of the Queen; YourTime Interview;A YEAR ON FROM THE EARTHQUAKE IN PAKISTAN, JEMIMA KHAN IS BACK TO CHECK ON THE AID EFFORT

Article excerpt

Byline: ANNABEL RIVKIN

ASKED to picture Jemima Khan, most of us will think of her looking glamorous on her boyfriend Hugh Grant's arm at a celebrity party, or lying elegantly beside him on a yacht in the Caribbean.

It is easy to forget that not so long ago she was living in Pakistan with her thenhusband Imran and being treated almost as royalty by his people, but dressing in traditional shalwar kameez and bringing up their two sons, Sulaiman, now nine, and Kasim, seven, as strict Muslims.

Since her divorce in 2004 after nine years of marriage, Jemima has thrown herself into the London social scene and left her old life behind.

Yet, following the awful earthquake that ripped through northern Pakistan a year ago, killing 73,000 people and displacing 3.3 million, she has been working tirelessly to help raise funds and become an ambassador for the children's charity Unicef.

Recently she returned to the country to see how aid is spent and I accompanied her on the trip.

"It's very rare that one gets an opportunity to report back to the donors," she says. "I felt it was particularly important in this case, given all the false stories about misappropriation of funds and rumours that earthquake donations had been used to fund terrorist activity."

And she is serious about seeing the worst of the continuing crisis: "I don't want this trip to be a pointless PR exercise or a photo opportunity, as we have to go home and convince people to give more money."

On our journey, people turn and stare, or come up to say hello. One or two give her presents - an embroidered scarf, a woven bag. "It's total warmth and kindness," she says. "And it's a relief, as I was a bit apprehensive. It's weirdly un-weird to be back. I have a deep, sentimental attachment to the country, having lived here for so long."

Nicknamed "The Locust" by Hugh Grant, because she devours everything in her path, Jemima is restrained when it comes to what she eats on this trip.

She suffered from amoebic dysentery or giardia for most of the time she lived here and has come armed with dried fruit, Carr's water biscuits, Pepperamis and a squeezy tub of Marmite. Beyond that, she eats only dhal and flat bread, nutritious local fare that tends to be low-risk.

Nonetheless, within 24 hours of landing back in London she is feverish and sick, as is the entire Unicef UK team.

On the minibus she disarms the whole delegation with her jokes, performing a funny stand-up routine about her boyfriend, her mother, her children and her own foibles and neuroses.

Jemima wears a kameez over some Western trousers and carries a scarf to cover her head. We spend eight hours a day in a car, and the heat is fairly intense, but she still looks beautiful. She says: "Imran used to say things like, 'Jem, why do you wear those jeans under your kameez? …

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