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Club raises awareness, money for Pakistan earthquake relief

By Zach Colick
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday, October 31, 2005
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The Muslim Student Association is working to increase awareness about the destruction of the recent earthquake in Pakistan after realizing how little students knew about the tragedy.

Club members have been collecting donations on the UA Mall for the past two weeks to be given toward relief efforts of the 7.6 magnitude earthquake that struck regions of India and Pakistan on Oct. 8.

While an estimated 80,000 people were killed and more than 3 million left homeless without food, water or shelter, the club members approached many students who were unaware these events ever occurred, said Justin Mashouf, club fundraising chairman.

For such devastation to happen and then go unnoticed is disappointing for the members, many of whom felt the earthquake's affects firsthand.

Club Vice President Khaqan Sikander said his father was near the epicenter of the earthquake when it struck Pakistan, and a friend of his lost 22 members of her family.

"It's scary that people you know and love have been killed or were in the midst of all the destruction," said Sikander, a sophomore majoring in international studies and economics. "But you certainly don't have to be from there to be affected somehow."

In addition to fundraising, the club has also been presenting a five-minute video that depicts the devastation to classes, other clubs and student government.

One of their major goals is to feature the video during halftime of the Homecoming football game Saturday, Sikander said.

Through these efforts, Mashouf said students are able to realize the seriousness of the situation, feel for the families and see that human suffering is universal.

"This is extremely important because Pakistan is in a very marginalized part of the world, even in the Islamic world, and a lot of aid never reaches these areas who are in need," Mashouf said. "People have been shocked and amazed because they haven't seen this portrayed in the media. We're trying to do what we can in bringing the most amount of aid for every dollar raised."

So far, the club has raised $2,500 and the total amount will be sent to the Edhi Foundation in Pakistan, which is world renowned for its grass-roots efforts in bringing immediate aid.

The group members feel they have a responsibility to raise money because of their religious and moral obligations to the Islamic religion and to make sure those funds reach the affected areas so ample food, water, warm clothing and housing goes to those in dire need of it, Mashouf said.

"It's easier to rebound and move on from such a tragedy if someone's head and faith is in line," Mashouf said. "Religion in itself is a safety net in recovering through something like this."

The club will be on the Mall again this week to raise funds for the relief efforts. Students who don't have cash to donate can send a check to the Islamic Center of Tucson, 901 E. First St., Tucson, AZ 85719.

The members are also planning to meet with President Peter Likins this week to gain his support and discuss what else can further their efforts for the catastrophe, Sikander said.

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