Students quick to aid quake victims

Online Poster

Online Poster

By Kiran Sood

In a campus-wide effort to raise money and awareness for victims of the earthquake in India and Pakistan, student organizations and individuals across campus have come together to support the relief effort.

The Pakistani Students Association, the Indian Student Association and the Hindu Students Council are among the groups that took part in the relief effort that began this past weekend. Since last week, the organizations have set up on the Quad with signs listing basic information on the devastation caused by the earthquake. More than 40,000 people have been declared dead. Thousands more have yet to be found.

Ahmad Zakaria, senior in Engineering and president of the Pakistani Students Association, said it is crucial for all people to be generous to donate. At Midnight Madness at Assembly Hall on Friday night, Zakaria and other members of the associations informed people of the disaster and collected money for the relief effort.

“The Pakistani Students Association, in alliance with the Urbana-Champaign American-Pakistani community, has launched a campus-wide effort to raise funds and collect relief goods,” Zakaria said.

Ahsan Rizvi, junior in Engineering and member of the Public Relations committee for the Pakistani Student Association, said that unfortunately, there has been little to no awareness among a large majority of people on campus.

“This earthquake really hit my friends and me close to the heart and home,” Rizvi said. “I knew people that were affected by the disaster and I have visited many of the cities that were affected.”

This is a wide-scale disaster that affected thousands of people and the campus needs to be up to speed with what is going on in the area, he said.

Emma Qureshi, junior in Business and member of the Pakistani Association, said the citizens of the areas hardest hit were already living in extremely difficult situations, and now are faced with even more hardships.

“The Pakistani Students Association will be collecting funds and arranging for a shipment of containers with relief goods over the next couple of weeks,” Qureshi said. “We hope that our fellow students, faculty and community members will show their generosity to people who have stood head and shoulder with the U.S. before.”

Safi Sandila, junior in Engineering, was responsible for coordinating the effort to begin collecting donations. He also made people aware of the event across campus. Through his involvement with the engineering council, he developed the idea of how to go about the project.

“Immediately after finding out about the disaster, I knew that something had to be done,” Sandila said. “We were smacked in the face with the magnitude of the disaster.”

He knew he had to do something to help the disaster victims and felt compelled to take the actions that he did.

“I think the word is getting around on campus that this is something that needs and deserves our time and attention,” Sandila said. “People have been seeing us and spotting our collection boxes across campus.”

This is an integral part to getting the message across, he said.

Nirav Amin, senior in LAS and co-chair of cultural awareness for the Indian association, has been working to collect money in a timely fashion. At the Champaign County Garba dance on Saturday night, Amin and other Indian Student Association members spoke about the importance of donations.

“We need to be very generous in times like these,” Amin said. “It is our duty and responsibility to help our brethren in India and Pakistan as much as we can.”

Amin placed a donation box on the stage allowing people to donate. Community members and students came forth for the cause, which Amin said was outstanding.

“People from the community were very generous in their donations,” Amin said. “The efforts were worthwhile.”