In light of the tsunami that plunged across the Indian Ocean the day after Christmas, caused billions of dollars worth of damage, hit 11 nations and resulted in more than 290,000 people being confirmed dead or missing, Temple University has not contributed any money to the tsunami-stricken countries.
Temple President David Adamany said the University is not involved “because we confine our charitable giving to one campaign each year.”
“I would be surprised if a great many [Temple-affiliated] people were not involved [in the relief effort],” Adamany said.
Indeed, many students, professors and organizations generously donated funds to help out the tsunami victims.
Graduate student Christopher Kelly organized an effort to raise $1,900 after hearing via CNN that Sri Lanka had been hit hard by the tsunami – Kelly had several friends vacationing in that country when the destructive waves hit.
“The first thing I did after seeing that news report … I sent an e-mail to my friends because I was scared,” Kelly said.
Kelly, 26, planned to have a New Year’s Eve party, but altered his celebration arrangements by e-mailing all invitees to tell them to bring $10 for tsunami donations instead of drinks and dessert. Kelly was overwhelmed by what he received.
“We raised more money from people who didn’t come to the party,” Kelly said, referring to the surprise contributions as a “snowballing effect” because his friends convinced more people to give him money to donate to the American Red Cross.
“The relief has been losing attention lately,” Kelly said.
Professor Everett Landers, however, points out “the [American] Red Cross has stopped collecting money” due to receiving more funds than immediately needed.
Landers, a journalism professor, has donated $50 for the relief effort.
The Temple Chapter of Habitat for Humanity, an organization run by the Office of Community Service, is also contributing to the relief effort.
Jason J. Riley, the assistant director for community service, explained the details. “They are raising $1,600 to sponsor one home in the areas affected by the tsunami,” said Riley, who is also an advisor for HFH Temple.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Temple University Hospital orthopedic surgeon Easwaran Balasubramanian traveled to South Asia several days before originally scheduled due to the unexpected tsunami.
Balasubramanian, 52, willingly offered to operate at a hospital in India, a country with more than 16,000 people dead or missing as a result of the devastating waves.
Shahid Mohiuddin, president of the university’s Muslim Student Association, said his organization is planning on selling tsunami wristbands for $1 within a week or two.
The MSA recommended its members privately donate money to tsunami victims.
“Since there are so many [national] organizations collecting money, that’s what we encouraged days after the tsunami,” Mohiuddin said.
The East West Club and Office of International Services collaborated last Friday to hold a free luncheon where all money donated would go to tsunami relief.
The event pleased East West Club President Antonio R. Reyes.
“A large amount of people came … People were really into it,” Reyes said.
Ambler’s Sigma Chi Delta sorority will host a 5K walk at the Ambler campus Sunday, Feb. 27.
Crisbel Baez, community service co-chair of Sigma Chi Delta, said the sorority will donate all the proceeds and water bottles to assist in the relief effort.
“With water supply systems contaminated and destroyed by the flood waters of the tsunami, millions of people lack safe water. We plan on collecting as many bottles as possible, and through the Clinton foundation, help with this cause,” Baez said.
Theresa Hanas, president of Sigma Chi Delta, said everyone is welcome to participate in the event.
“We are hoping for a large turnout. We want students, other organizations, staff and members from the surrounding communities to come out,” Hanas said.
First-year graduate student Muhammad Shihab gathered a few friends to organize several fundraisers for the tsunami relief effort. Shihab is a member of the Indonesian Community of Greater Philadelphia – an organization that contributed more than $25,000 in tsunami relief.
Shihab said he is grateful to those who contributed money to the tsunami victims. “Everybody should help,” said Shihab, who recommends people visit www.reliefonline.org if they are interested in donating money for the relief effort.
Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman can be reached at Sulaiman@temple.edu.