Islamic Relief Fundraiser in Fremont
By Abdulrahman Rafiq


L to R: Rashid Latif, Anwar Khan, Dr. Rajab Ali and Imam Zaid Shakir

Fremont, CA: On Saturday April 1st, 2006 around 200 people turned up at the Islamic Relief South Asia Fundraiser at the Chandni Restaurant in Fremont, California. The theme of the event centered on rebuilding lives and restoring hope for the victims of the October 8th 2005 earthquake in the Northern Areas of Pakistan.
The evening began with a recitation from the Holy Qur’an by Munir Iqtish, who is the development coordinator for Islamic Relief in California. Following the recitation, Dr Rajab Ali gave a short, yet passionate, talk on how grateful we should be to God and emphasizing why we need to help alleviate the sufferings of other peoples. By extending a helping hand we are benefiting ourselves as much as the people in need. He went on to emphasize that to give charity is part of the fundamental teachings of Islam.
Following Dr Ali’s talk, a delectable dinner was served. As usual, Islamic Relief’s dinner arrangements were superbly done - from the way the dinner lines were organized to the menu selection. It showed someone had taken the time to pay attention to the logistical details. This is something admirable and impressive in its own right, given that it is not common to attend such a well-planned out and organized Muslim or Pakistani event.
Dinner lasted about an hour, after which the program was resumed with Imam Zaid Shakir from Zaytuna Institute in Hayward and Rashid Lateef, former Pakistan cricket team captain, addressing the gathering. Moeen Khan was unable to attend due to visa problems.
Rashid Lateef spoke in Urdu to a predominantly non-Urdu speaking crowd. His talk was summarized in English by Mohammad Niaz, the PR coordinator for Islamic Relief in Pakistan. Lateef described his visit to the affected areas. He spoke from his heart, was on the verge of tears when he described the plight of the orphaned children. He urged the audience to donate generously. All it takes to feed one child a day is one US dollar or sixty Pakistani rupees.
He said that it is imperative that schools be rebuilt as soon as possible. Education is the one hope these children have for rebuilding their own and their community’s lives.
On the whole the fundraiser was a successful event, even though the turnout from the Bay Area Pakistan community was disappointing. Such was the show of solidarity with our fellow suffering Pakistanis. Dare I even ask how many Indians would have showed up if this event was for their country? Granted their pockets are deeper, but they show up in numbers just to demonstrate solidarity and support.
Speaking of money, the cover price for the event was $20 for general admission and $15 for students, a small sum for Silicon Valley professionals. Islamic Relief raised US$51,000 even though their target was US$150,000.
It will take years to rebuild the lives of the people of Kashmir. Islamic Relief (http://www.irw.org/) is a legitimate organization, recognized by the United Nations, endorsed by Prince Charles of England and by Four Star Charity. They have been designated as the lead relief organization in the affected areas. They take 6% of your donation for administrative costs, and the rest goes towards relief work.
(The author is a technology professional in the Silicon Valley, an OPEN SV fellow www.opensiliconvalley.com, founder and moderator of the South Asia Earthquake Relief listserv www.groups.yahoo.com/group/sa_earthquake2005 and member of the PADF Earthquake Relief committee www.voiceofpakistan.net. He can be reached at arafiq@paksef.org. The author would like to acknowledge Mr Munir Iqtish for providing the photographs of the event. )

 

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