Students join in earthquake relief

by Elizabeth Giorgi

Saturday’s devastating magnitude-7.6 earthquake resulting in approximately 35,000 deaths and thousands more injured in and around Pakistan has motivated University students to raise money.

Campus organizations have planned fundraising dinners, Web site updates and mosque worships to help support those in need.

The Minnesota International Student Association has been working all week to make it easier for students to donate to credible relief organizations.

Electrical engineer senior and MISA president Aditya Malhotra said the club has added links to its Web site as well as sending e-mails to 4,000 students, staff members and faculty members in hopes of getting personal donations.

Malhotra said there have been many disastrous events recently, and people have adapted to the fact that they need to help in relief efforts.

“The U.S. saw Katrina, and people can now understand better,” he said.

Chemical engineering graduate student Zeeshan Syedain has been working with the Pakistani Student Association and speaking with several students about the situation in Pakistan.

“As far as we know there aren’t any (University students) who have lost any family members (in Pakistan),” he said.

The Pakistani Student Association is incorporating the end of Ramadan with fundraising.

Electrical engineering senior and Pakistani Student Association president Usman Anwer said the organization has received donations at Ramadan dinners that the organization had to celebrate the end of their month of fasting.

The dinners were all week at Grace Lutheran Church and were open to the community, he said. There were boxes at the dinners for attendees to leave donations.

The group is also having a fundraising dinner at a Mosque in Bloomington in collaboration with the Global Council of Pakistan that is also open to the public, he said.

“We would like students to come to our events,” he said, “The monies we are collecting go to charities that fund directly,” he said.

Shumaila Anwer, chairwoman for the Board of Directors for the Global Council of Pakistan, said it is great so many people are willing to donate money, but people need to be careful about organizations that are not licensed in the United States.

Many organizations have conducted scams, and are getting a lot of media attention so it is important to research where donations are going first, she said.

“Check out the organization first and check to see how much money is going to administrative costs,” she said.

Pakistan International Airlines is shipping items such as blankets, tents and food to Pakistan for free. People don’t have to donate money alone, there is also a need for supplies, she said.