Silicon Valley South
Asia Earthquake Fundraiser
By Ras H. Siddiqui
Baloch, Ann Opara, Athar Siddique, Bonnie Williams,
On Monday, October 17, 2005,
the South Asian community of Silicon Valley held one of
its many fundraisers to aid the victims of one of the worst
calamities to hit that region in several years.
Employees of some of the major technology companies from
this area gathered at the Napredak Hall in San Jose for
a taste of Ramadan and to show solidarity with a cause that
is sure to move a lot more people in the days to come. And
to receive their donations, a number of relief organizations,
namely the American Red Cross, Edhi International Foundation,
Hidaya Foundation, Indian Muslim Relief Committee, Rahima
Foundation and UNICEF, set up tables and furnished information
to all who asked.
After Azan and the breaking of the Ramadan fast with dates
and water, the Muslims present in the gathering offered
evening prayers while the non-Muslims waited. A delicious
Pakistani dinner followed, and proved to be a big hit with
everyone both fasting and non-fasting.
Jitu Choudhary, Manzoor Ghori, Pasha Quadri, Sabahat
Moderator Athar Siddique initiated
the proceedings following a recitation from the Holy Qur’an
and invited event host Pasha Quadri to address the gathering.
Pasha gave us an overview of Silicon Valley companies that
have already contributed large sums to the earthquake relief
effort and/or are matching funds that their employees are
contributing to a certain ceiling amount. Space constraints
here do not allow a full list of contributors to be included,
but needless to say the “Who’s Who” of
Silicon Valley was included. Pasha went on to elaborate
the game plan here, both short- and long-term. “We
need to build and rebuild,” he said. “Our intent
is to build a strong network of valley professionals,”
he added. People such as doctors, engineers and project
managers were encouraged to assist in this work since it
is going to be an ongoing effort.
On behalf of the relief organizations present Sister Habibe
Husain from the local Bay area Rahima Foundation spoke first.
She said that this Ramadan we are here with a heavy heart
due to the earthquake tragedy. She gave a brief background
of the Rahima Foundation and the very important work that
it has been doing. Feeding the hungry during Ramadan and
on other occasions has earned the organization a lot of
respect locally. “The power of compassion can overcome
every other power,” she said. She proposed an “Adopt
a Village” program for the earthquake impacted, and
said that she was herself willing to go to Pakistan to implement
Red Cross desk
Waseem Baloch from the Hidaya
Foundation spoke next. Bay area people recognize Hidaya
as an organization to approach when there is a call to assist
in any tragedy. “We are experiencing a strange situation.
We are seeing our strengths and our weaknesses,” said
Waseem. “We are trying our best but we are not ready,”
he added. He also observed that we all live in an earthquake
fault area here in the San Francisco Bay Area and asked
how many of us have disaster preparedness kits in our homes?
He said that the lack of planning was our biggest weakness
and that was the reason that aid was not getting to earthquake
victims in Pakistan quickly. Hidaya has already loaded four
containers of supplies to be sent to Pakistan and is accepting
more donations in both cash and in kind. He said that we
should have a 1, 3 and 5 year goal now. Hidaya is proposing
a “Donate a Tent and Save a Family” project
for the victims of this earthquake.
Bonnie Williams, special events director for the American
Red Cross, Santa Clara Valley Chapter ,said that the International
Red Cross has been approached by the Red Crescent Organization
and is mobilizing. She said that her organization does not
take in-kind donations. “It is much more efficient
and beneficial to the local economy of the area if we purchase
there,” she said. She added that the Red Cross is
also involved in family-tracing services. Taking with this
reporter earlier, she said that transportation of goods
is slower and more expensive so monetary contributions go
a lot further and help the regional economy too. Contributions
to the Red Cross can be made online and certain companies
will match that contribution on the presentation of a printed
Red Cross desk
Jitu Chaudhury from the Islamic
Relief Organization explained that his group has three offices
in Pakistan and is already on the scene. He said that two
airlifts of supplies of medicinse have already taken place
to Pakistan and a 3 million dollar purchase of tents is
in the pipeline. Ten medical clinics are in operation and
2000 people a day are being treated. Islamic Relief is a
truly international organization and is getting lot of contributions
from our Muslim community in this area for its efforts.
Manzoor Ghori of the Indian Muslim Relief Committee said
that the Indian side of Kashmir cannot be ignored and not
enough information is coming out from there. He said that
the IMRC was a 25-year old Bay Area organization whose first
priority is to help orphan and disabled children. He added
that IMRC was the only such organization working in Indian
Kashmir and is allowed by the Indian Government to operate
there. “People have not received help for the last
several days (in Kashmir),” he said.
UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund needs little
introduction as far as its presence and work are concerned.
Ann Opara, representing UNICEF in Silicon Valley was very
brief in her remarks. Since children are the highest impacted
group in this earthquake tragedy, UNICEF has a huge role
to play there.
And last but not least there is Edhi. Initially Bay Area
tech writer Sabahat Ashraf whose earthquake net effort (http://pakistan.wikicities.com
) is truly commendable. He said a few words about Edhi and
how to contact them.
The Edhi International Foundation was represented here by
Mrs. Firdous Kamran. “Please remember Edhi when you
donate. Edhi is a name you can trust,” she said.
And with no marketing effort and no local setup, Maulana
Sattar Edhi’s and Bilquis Edhi’s work speaks
for itself as Pakistanis continue to write their checks
to them. And if readers detect any bias here in favor of
Edhi, this reporter stands guilty.
In closing and echoing the words of event moderator Athar
Siddique, one need not add that this is the month of Ramadan,
when the love of God and God’s creations should remain
in our thoughts. A huge tragedy has struck Pakistan and
Kashmir. Please remember our unfortunate brethren in need
during this Ramadan and Eid. Millions of homeless Pakistanis
need your help. Please help them to bury their dead and
to rebuild their lives.