Islamic Relief Fundraiser
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
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 email@example.com. The author would like
to acknowledge Mr Munir Iqtish for providing the photographs
of the event. )