Courtesy of Abhiram Juvvadi

Moroccan students from Yale, Brown, Cornell, Columbia and the University of Pennsylvania have been quick to respond to the seven point magnitude earthquake that struck Morocco on Sept. 8, working together to support fundraising efforts for humanitarian relief.

The earthquake devastated the High Atlas mountain region and left over 2,900 people dead and 5,500 injured nationwide. It is the first earthquake that Morocco has faced in over a century. Students across Ivy League universities began coordinating a fundraising initiative to aid the humanitarian relief efforts, according to Yasmine Kettani, a student at UPenn who is involved in the efforts. 

Kettani added that the five schools have also been “actively” coordinating and are also “regularly in discussions” with representatives of Harvard and Princeton Universities.  

“It is inspiring to see a population come together in pain as much as it does in joy and I address all my respect and admiration for everyone who stepped up to contribute,” Kettani wrote to the News. “Having lived all my life in Morocco, I see pictures of the disaster and I see my home destroyed. I see people seeking help and I see my own family. What drives me to continue to fight is the simple fact that I know people are in need and that I can do something about it.”

The Ivy League for Morocco Disaster Relief program officially began just three days after the earthquake hit, as students from Yale, Brown and UPenn sought to aid their home countries however they could.

The groups began to fundraise through various student organizations at their respective schools, but with no nonprofit organization to hold the funds, Lina Laghmam ’26 said they found themselves on “shaky legal territory.”

After nearly a day of searching, Laghmam was referred to Peter Crumlish, the executive director and general secretary of Dwight Hall at Yale University. 

On the condition that all donations would be reserved for certified nonprofit organizations, Dwight Hall agreed to host the funds, and by Tuesday, Sept. 12 at 7 p.m., the group’s donations page went live.

“The best we can do is to fundraise,” Laghmam told the News. “Your donation will have a strong impact — just one U.S. dollar equates to five loaves of bread.”

Each involved Ivy is fundraising under the same account and donating to the same associations. 

The Ivy League for Morocco Disaster Relief program has partnered with two organizations currently on the ground in Morocco: la Banque Alimentaire, a food bank, and Al Baraka Angels, both of which focus on bringing basic necessities to families in need. These nonprofits provide  sustenance including food, water and non-perishables, tents for temporary shelter and hygiene products. 

“This organization is not pretentious enough to believe we are going to save the day and turn the entire situation around, but we can make a positive impact,” said Laghmam. “This is not something I enjoy doing on a daily basis in my free time, but action is the only appropriate response.”

To further their fundraising efforts, the Yale students involved in the Ivy League for Morocco Disaster Relief program are putting together an a capella event on Sept. 27, currently featuring Proof of the Pudding, the Yale Slavic Choir, Doox of Yale and more student performing groups, which organizers said are not yet confirmed. 

The event will be open to both the Yale and the greater New Haven communities, with a $5 minimum donation for entry. 

“I wish people understood the impact a $5 donation could have,” Sophia Lahik ’26 told the News. “It can seem really small, but even the smallest amount can make the most profound impact. In reality, $5 can feed a family for a week.”

Students at the UPenn hosted a bake sale on their campus to both raise awareness about the tragedy as well as to support the welfare of Moroccan families. 

Despite the urgent turnaround and initial success of the group’s initiatives, in interviews with the News, students at both Yale and UPenn emphasized obstacles, including the lack of a designated space for Moroccan students on campus, which they said they faced and the ways in which those obstacles influenced the program’s effectiveness. 

Lahik said that Moroccan students already lacked appropriate spaces on campus at Yale, which made it difficult for the organization to mobilize around the Ivy League for Morocco Disaster Relief program. 

Lahik told the News that she is grateful for those who have contributed either their time or money to the relief efforts and urged more of the student body and faculty to do the same. 

The Chaplain’s Office hosted a vigil for the Moroccan earthquake and the Libyan flood on Sept. 18 at 7 p.m. at the Women’s Table on Cross Campus. 

The coalition is accepting donations via Venmo at the handle @DHAY-Dwight-Hall-at-Yale and asks that contributors include “Morocco” in the transaction description. 

Brooklyn Brauner serves as a staff reporter for the City desk, covering Nonprofits and Social Services throughout New Haven, in addition to serving as the Thursday Newsletter Editor. Originally from Wisconsin, she is currently a sophomore in Grace Hopper College studying Political Science.