With much of flood-stricken Pakistan still in need of aid, the Yale community is stepping up.
In late July, massive floods in the Balochistan, Sindh and Punjab regions of Pakistan submerged a quarter of the country’s land, leaving more than 20 million people injured or homeless and damaging $43 billion of infrastructure. Now, Yalies for Pakistan, or YPAK, is working with administrators and other student organizations to raise money for relief efforts.
“The Pakistani government has failed to make even remotely adequate efforts for relief,” said Ayesha Muhammad ’14, a Pakistan native and YPAK member. “Even international aid has been extremely limited. This leaves only the people of Pakistan to take relief and restoration projects upon their own shoulders and make as much of a difference as they can.”
YPAK co-presidents Zheela Qaiser ’11 and Muneeb Sultan ’11 said they have been speaking to residential college masters, the Yale College Dean’s Office, and musical groups on campus to coordinate a series of awareness and fundraising events. The Muslim Students Association raised about $1,600 during Eid and Ramadan for the cause, MSA president Sana Samnani ‘12 said. Qaiser added that the International Students Organization and South Asian Society are also collaborating with YPAK to increase students’ awareness of the disaster.
“We want to get the mainstream attention that the floods deserve so that relief efforts can be mobilized through Yale,” she said. “Fortunately, the Yale administration has been exceedingly responsive.”
So far, Qaiser said, YPAK has spoken with Thomas Duffy, director of the Yale Bands, Associate Dean for the Arts Susan Cahan, Yale College Dean Mary Miller, University Chaplain Sharon Kugler and others. On Sept. 25, the Dean’s Office will hold a fundraising concert similar to one held in Woosley Hall last January in the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti. Qaiser said the Haiti benefit raised $27,000, and that YPAK hopes to at least match that figure.
Though Sultan said the details are still tentative, the Yale Bands, Yale Orchestra, Glee Club, and a cappella groups will be performing.
As part of the same initiative, Pierson College, in association with YPAK, hosted a study break Wednesday night, which included slideshows, talks promoting awareness of the disaster, and South Asian food. Apart from the concert, funds for disaster relief will also be raised through a website being set up by the Dean’s Office, the sale of specially made wristbands for $5 each, and donations from alumni.
Pakistani students Sajid Ghani ’12 and Zeenat Mansoor ’13 said they are grateful that both students and administrators are pitching in to the relief effort.
Mansoor said she was in Pakistan when the floods started and recalled her experience photographing afflicted areas.
“I couldn’t sleep for two days after what I saw,” she said. “There were people fighting over food, entire villages were washed off, and all communication was shut down. I couldn’t bring myself to see the devastation — imagine what it was like for those who lived it.”
Mansoor is a staff photographer for the News.
Ghani said he was disappointed to see the initial lack of support, both internationally and at Yale, for the disaster but now hopes to see more concentrated efforts by the international community over the next few weeks.
All funds collected by student organizations and the fundraising concert will be donated to the Red Cross and UNICEF.