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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Students unite to help in Pakistan flood relief efforts

Published: September 23, 2010
Section: News

Brandeis students are known for their commitment to helping those in need, so it needs little explanation that following a summer of disastrous floods in Pakistan, the student body is doing all they can to improve the lives of people on the other side of the world.

Floods began in Pakistan and nearby countries on July 26, displacing 21 million people, according to a statement from Student Union President Daniel Acheampong ’11.

In August, Anushka Aqil ’12 sent out an e-mail to her friends and people on-campus acquaintences collecting a motivated student response.

Students have formed a relief effort in coordination with the Student Union to raise awareness and money for the victims of Pakistan’s floods, Acheampong wrote.

The group called, Brandeis for Pakistan Flood Relief, is “working on various events to raise awareness and garner support” from the Brandeis community, Acheampong wrote.

“Because of the lack of media attention, not a lot was happening,” Aqil, said, explaining the initial international response to the crisis.

Aqil, who is Pakistani, said that the flooding has hit rural areas and villages severely and that many of the highly populated cities have not been effected directly from the floods the way that rural areas were.

She said that one of the biggest problems in the relief effort is that Pakistan has domestic issues handling the response.

“The government right now is not equipped to take care of the people,” Aqil said.

Acheampong said that from the United Nations estimate of $460 million needed to respond to the floods, $148 million has already been donated.

The group has several main events planned for the fall. Their kick off event is a large dinner on Sept. 28 inside Sherman Function Hall. Admission is $15 for the South Asian feast. Aqil hopes that 200 members of the Brandeis community will attend next week’s fundraiser.

“We want this effort to be community-wide, in which everyone has a part in making a difference,” Acheampong wrote.

“Everyone gives in their own individual talents,” Aqil said, commenting that the groups list serve contains 30 to 40 members.

In addition to the group’s goal of raising $25,000 to $30,000, Aqil and Acheampong explained the need to spread awareness about the floods.

Although no organizations have been confirmed, the group is planning to donate at least part of the money to International Development Relief Fund (IDRF) and Plan International.

IDRF works on emergency relief efforts across the globe and Plan International focuses on issues relating to children poverty.

“It goes beyond the monetary … even spreading the word from one person to another causes a slippery slope of information” to make students aware about the floods, Acheampong said.

There is also an educational panel of professors examining the flood’s effects on Pakistan’s future scheduled for Oct. 18, as well as a concert and a silent auction in November being organized by Union Vice President Shirel Guez ’12. The date for the auction will be set by next week, according to Aqil.

On Oct. 4, there will be a henna event in Ridgewood Commons. The Greek Awareness Club is planning a week for Pakistan and Aqil is also organizing a penny drive in December to raise extra funds.

“We’re going to try to give all the inner-resources we can to help out,” Acheampong said.

Aqil was grateful for the Union’s response.

“Their man power is our saving grace right now,” Aqil said.

Last semester, following the destruction of an earthquake that struck Haiti in January, students undertook a similar project, forming the Brandeis Haiti Relief Effort, and raising more than $30,000 for Partners in Health, Empowering Through Education (ETE) Camp and Hope for Haiti.