Sacramento Furnishes Proof that It Cares
By Ras H. Siddiqui
Azmat S. Siddiqui
Bashir Choudhry
Durriya Syed
Javad Rahimian
Kais Menoufy
Mo Mohanna
Rashid Ahmad

The Sacramento, California Interfaith and Ethnic community in a city known for its diversity held yet another fundraiser for the victims of the devastating earthquake in South Asia (mainly Kashmir and Pakistan) on Tuesday, November 1, 2005 at The Grand on J Street. This gathering hosted by Iranian-American Mo Mohanna in the heart of downtown Sacramento, succeeded in generating what appeared to be much more than a full shipping container of warm clothes, tents, sleeping bags and other outdoor survival gear for some of the millions left homeless by the quake.
In addition to the supplies, over $65,000 were raised to be distributed amongst a number of charitable organizations including the Edhi Foundation, Islamic Relief, Church World Services, President’s Relief Fund and the Hidaya Foundation for the victims of nature’s most recent catastrophic strike.
Mr. Rashid Ahmad opened the program. “This is a community we can be proud of,” he said. And one can only agree just judging from the number of fundraising events that this area has held recently.
Host Mohamed Mohanna bid everyone welcome. “We are blessed to be here,” he said. Mo elaborated on the sameness of man and the fact that the Human Race is sometimes at its best when faced with disasters. “Let us see what we can do for our less fortunate people,” he said.

Above: Glimpses of the fundraiser

Sacramento County Supervisor Roger Dickenson added many words of support. “You are a very important part of what makes Sacramento a special place,” he said. “Tonight, what brings us together is to help our fellow human beings in need.” Roger added that we need to help those that have lost everything and that our contributions, no matter how little they may seem, could make an enormous difference to the victims of the earthquake.
Tamer Ahmed next started the official fundraiser with a recitation from the Holy Qur’an.
Sister Durriya Syed spoke next. Along with her husband Naeem Syed, Durriya has been very active in the Sacramento area, working on a number of projects. She is currently Vice President of the Interfaith Service Bureau. “Sacramento is the best,” she said. “Whenever we have tragedies, we always come together.” She encouraged everyone to watch a slide show and a short movie clip. “Religion is not complete without compassion,” she said as Dexter McNamara, also of the Interfaith Service Bureau, spoke next and quoted from scripture and defined what good neighborliness is all about. “Thank you for being like neighbors to those in need,” he said.
A number of youth presentations were worthy of note. Alia Abid represented Islamic Relief and the Muslim Students Association in Davis. Zaki Syed presented a moving Rap number “Let’s put our hands together and pray, for the people that passed away….” (Zaki received a standing ovation), Dina El-Nakhal from CAIR (Sacramento Valley) made a moving appeal and Sara Halim Khan shared with the gathering her personal experience of the earthquake because she was there. Sara described collapsing college walls and the quick setting up of tent hospitals to treat the wounded.
One of the forces behind this event T. Sami Siddiqui talked about a telephone conversation that he had with his brother in Karachi, Pakistan about the lack of medical care for the earthquake victims and amputations that had become common due to lack of medicines for the wounded. This was just motivating factor for him and many here.

Roger Dickenson
Sara Khan
Shabbir Shaikh
T. Sami Siddiqui
Tamer Ahmad
Zaki Syed

Javad Rahimian joined a number of other Iranian Americans at this fundraiser and spoke of the human race being a part of the same body. He presented a poem and said that when tragedies like this happen, it is depressing, but somehow they also make us better human beings. The Rahimians made a substantial donation to the victims of the South Asian earthquake at this event.
Local Arab-American businessman and community leader Kais Menoufy spoke of his own struggles in life. “What I have in my pocket is not something that I had a few years ago. And if I go tomorrow, I am going without taking anything with me,” he said. He urged everyone to contribute generously to a struggling people and said that since he has learnt to share things in life with others he has quit worrying about many unnecessary things.
Azmat Siddiqui spoke of his experience and the positive response that he had received at his place of employment, the Future Ford car dealership. He said that billions of dollars
were spent in America on Halloween and asked why we could not spare a considerably lesser sum for these earthquake victims.
Bashir Choudry, President of the local Pakistan Association, made an emotional appeal. He prayed to God to give the victims the strength to bear their pain and said that he was thankful to the Sacramento community for their generosity. “We are a (true) global community,” he said. “No matter how small a donation, please give to the people in Pakistan,” he added.
Shabbir Shaikh, of Kashmiri origins and a Davis, California businessman made a very special call for help. Shabbir lost his brother and other relatives in this earthquake and found it difficult to express his emotions. He spoke of the massive devastation in his homeland and said that a number of areas had not yet been reached by relief crews.
Lester Smith from the local Jewish community brought a check from his group and said a few words. “The oneness of God is common to both Judaism and Islam,” he said.
In closing, after a number of people agreed to pay for tents (at $100 each) and while some literally emptied their pockets on the request of Mr. Rashid and the final fund numbers ($65,000) came from Javed Iqbal and Basim Elkarra, a number of thoughts came to mind as I was leaving. As a person of Pakistani origin who can feel only a distant pain of loss for earthquake victims there, I left this venue with a sense of pride in the community in which I live. Sacramento Muslims and non-Muslims, Arab, Indian and Iranian-Americans all pitched in for this effort. It was great to learn that Sacramento cares!


Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
2004 . All Rights Reserved.