Raising Hope for Earthquake Victims in Berkeley
By Ras Siddiqui


Adeel Iqbal
Ahmad Huzairmail
Tom Bates

“Raising Hope,” a benefit dinner for South Asian Earthquake Relief, lived up to its name as a full house established without a doubt that the students, faculty and the City of Berkeley care about people in need around the globe. In this case, the October 30th gathering at the Pauley Ballroom in the Martin Luther King, Jr., Student Union,
a number of organizations including Asha Berkeley, Asian American Association, the Associated Students of the University of California, Indian Students Association, Muslim Students Association, Sikh Students Association, and last but not least, the Pakistan Students Association hosted this event to raise funds for victims of the recent devastating earthquake in Kashmir, Pakistan and India.
Master of Ceremonies Adeel Iqbal, Editor in Chief of the Daily Californian newspaper, kicked off the evening with words of welcome. He thanked all in attendance for their spirit of caring as the next presentation, a moving slide show of the victims of this latest world calamity, really hit the point home that these people need immediate help. The scenic, picturesque background in these slides did not help much as the sufferings of these people could not be hidden. With nowhere to call home, men, women, young and old looked overwhelmed. “We are here tonight to raise hope for these people,” said Adeel before inviting Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates to speak.
Osman Ergene
Darren Zook
Rita Moran

Mayor Bates in his short presentation touched on a number of points. “That was just incredible, those pictures…,” he said. The extent of the devastation portrayed in the slides really moved him for a number of reasons. He said that the Bay Area is certainly earthquake territory and as Mayor he understood the responsibility that goes along with his office for trying to be prepared. He also made it a point to encourage all the young people who put this event together and praised their efforts. “You guys are just fabulous,” he said. I am really pleased and proud to be your Mayor.”
The next speaker, Political Science Professor at UC Berkeley, Darren Zook said that it is difficult to imagine the reality of this tragedy sitting here in Berkeley as those that were lucky enough to be alive certainly face an uncertain existence as winter approaches. He spoke of the region which has already seen enough tragedy, two wars and an insurgency.
To South Asians he asked: “Why does it take a natural disaster to bring us together?” He said the opening of the Line of Control (LoC) between the Indian and Pakistani side of Kashmir should bring hope.
Adeel Iqbal next said a few words about the two organizations that had been chosen as conduits to send aid to the victims of this earthquake, namely the Bay Area-based Hidaya Foundation and the Red Crescent (affiliated with the Red Cross). A representative of the Hidaya Foundation, Osman Ergene, was on hand and gave a detailed presentation about the history and the work that this organization is and has been doing in a number of locations both here in the United States (e.g. Hurricane Katrina) and in Asia (Tsunami) and now in South Asia (Kashmir/Pakistan Earthquake). He said that Hidaya had purchased 6,100 tents at $100 each and they are being delivered to Pakistan weekly. Osman said that Hidaya was planning for the future with orphan support, skill development and vocational centers, support for people who have lost limbs, home reconstruction help and self-reliance programs.
The fundraiser started off with a target of $10,000. One event sponsor, American Muslim Voice whose Executive Director Samina Faheem presented a check for $1800, helping a great deal in motivating others as $11,000 was raised in a very short time. Other sponsors of the event Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson, California Alumni Association, City of Berkeley and Nadesan Permaul all deserve thanks as does Mehran Restaurant for the dinner provided.
Now to the unscheduled speaker Rita Moran from the United Nations Association: “This country was caught asleep,” she said referring to Hurricane Katrina. “For the first time in its history, the UN offered its assistance to the United States and the United States accepted,” she added. On the Pakistan/Kashmir earthquake Rita praised Berkeley as a city and a university that really cares about people. She added that UN Undersecretary General Jan Egeland, who is in charge of UN relief efforts in Pakistan, was once a resident at International House here so there is a local connection too.
“The time is now when your money is needed,” she said.
Closing comments were provided by Ahmad Huzair who is currently a Senator of the Associated Students of the University of California. “The $11,000 we raised here tonight is not enough,” he said. But he added that it was crucial that we get this aid to the victims of this earthquake as fast as possible. “Thank you all for coming and making this a success,” he said.
In closing one can only write that this fine event put together by Asian, Muslim, Pakistani and South Asian students at UC Berkeley was a window into an aspect of their lives that we older folks sometimes tend to overlook. These young people do care about people around them and around the globe. And since they may not know that this reporter who some of them call “Uncle” has visited Telegraph Avenue and the UC Berkeley campus since the days of the Flower Children, they will not mind if I feel a sense of pride in being even remotely associated with their effort.

 

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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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