Temple students, anguished at hearing the news about the Indian earthquake that shattered the state of Gujarat two weeks ago, are contributing to earthquake relief funds, in hope of helping many of the tragic victims. The Indian Students Association at Temple, CRY (Child Relief and You) and two other schools in the region are working to raise money to send donations to the victims.
On Monday, an official count declared more than 16,000 people dead, although it is suspected that over 30,000 people may have died from the earthquake, which measured 7.9 on the Richter scale. The United States and other European countries have been rushing aid to the stricken state, where officials are deciding how best to use it.
Students here have been saddened by the news of the earthquake. Computer science graduate student, Deepak Sharma gave an undisclosed contribution to CRY.
When he first heard about the earthquake, Sharma, who has family in the city of Baroda and friends in Ahmedabad, the capital city of Gujarat, said, “I was shocked. I asked myself, ‘What’s happening?’ I was constantly keeping an eye on the news to find out what was going on.”
Deepu David, an electrical engineering junior has family in southern India. He donated $150 to his Indian church, which had been contacted by a relief organization.
“I’m was upset [upon hearing about the earthquake] – it always hurts to hear something happen to people who share your culture,” he said.
“It’s tragic, how stuff happens,” said Stephanie Sherin, freshman marketing major.
Sherin said she would try and donate something to the Red Cross or to an organization on campus if they were collecting money for relief.
The president of ISAT, Mehul Patel said plans have been made where a garba (traditional dance) will be held, with profits going to CRY. The garba will be a collaboration between Temple, Drexel University and University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, and will be scheduled for either February 17 or 24.
An earthquake relief fund table was also set up in Tuttleman Hall on Tuesday, to collect contribution from fellow students. Sejal Shah, co-secretary of ISAT mentioned that the response had been quite good, with people donating $10 and $20 bills.
Many people stopped to ask questions and to look at the horrifying pictures, brought back by people visiting India that show the results of the devastating earthquake. The fundraising drive will last five days and all proceeds will go to CRY.
Bunmi Samuel, the president of Temple Student Government is pleased with ISAT’s efforts. “ISAT is doing a good job, a worthy cause,” he said.
Samuel said five individual students who were worried about the earthquake had contacted TSG and inquired about raising funds. Samuel, who happened to meet Patel out on the street mentioned the students who came to TSG, and Patel told Samuel about ISAT’s own plans to collect funds.
Samuel said TSG has their own plans for helping the earthquake victims and other international students who may have been affected by news of the earthquake. He insisted that getting the right information was most vital. “We’ll probably have a meeting, and discuss issues about raising money,” he said.
Anthropology professor, Jayasinhji “Bapa” Jhala, has raised approximately $10,000 by a fundraising drive he is conducting in the department of anthropology. He wants the money collected to go to the villages that will be excluded from foreign aid.
“My drive from the beginning is for the villages that will be left out,” he said.
However Jhala said that his aim is to make people aware of the situation.
“What’s more important is to get the message out,” he said.
Jhala hopes to do this by taking a group of students to the devastated region in the summer, where they will learn about the lives of people there, and help with the rehabilitation and restoration.
Nisha Patel (no relation to Mehul Patel), an undergraduate representative for ISAT and volunteer for CRY since September 2000, said CRY is collecting money and sending it to India, to help the organizations there. Currently, the money will be used for the most basic needs, such as water, clothing and food.
“Being Gujarati, it touched home; how this can happen anywhere,” Patel said.
But, by volunteering, she feels much better as something is being done about it.
The Office of International Services sent out a message on their international student mailing list, with information on a web site created by the South Asia Regional Studies department at the University of Pennsylvania. The web site contains information on addresses and organizations providing relief to the quake victims.
Many other organizations and companies are conducting fundraising drives in hope of gathering money and donations to send to the victims. All over the world, earthquake relief groups have sprung up, imploring their communities to help this troubled country where many people already live in poverty.